On November 23, 2023, SUN reported that nurses had clocked over 1 million hours of overtime to keep the healthcare system on life support, and drew attention to Saskatchewan’s growing $70 million dependence on travel nurses on March 14, 2024

In December 2023, the Safe Hours Save Lives report was released by the CFNU, driving home the message that nurse fatigue and excessive hours of work must be addressed with sufficient resources to create healthy, quality work environments that prioritize nurses, patients, and a functional healthcare system.

The CFNU 2024 Member Survey identified progressive concerns across the nursing profession, and nurses are reporting continued poor quality of care and workplace deterioration, with no signs of improvement on the horizon. 

You are navigating the crisis daily to provide the minimum required registered nursing care, undergoing the detrimental effects of fatigue, burnout, physiological and/or psychological overload, and reinforcing the risks to your fitness to practice. 

Setting the Record Straight:

  • Overtime is voluntary, except in emergency circumstances.
  • The Employer can offer Members overtime however, they cannot “mandate” Members to work overtime unless one of the defined emergency circumstances exists as per Article 8.01.
    • Emergency circumstances are defined as circumstances driven by an unforeseen and/or unpredictable influx of patients or an unanticipated increase in care required to address patient well-being.
  • Staff shortages and lack of effective recruitment and retention plans are neither unforeseen, unpredicted, nor unanticipated.
  • Any concerns about overtime requests by Out-of-Scope Management should be immediately reported to your Local President and Labour Relations Officer.
  • There is no professional regulatory standard, indicator, competency, or ethical responsibility that states registered nurses must stay beyond their scheduled shift due to known staffing deficiencies.

The Employer’s inability to recruit, retain, and appropriately staff units or facilities that create known, uncorrected, and predictable registered nurse staffing deficiencies can not go unchallenged.  Left unchecked, you cannot provide high-quality, safe, effective, and appropriate healthcare services in a healthy work environment.

A review of regulatory requirements identifies that registered nurses are responsible and accountable for the decisions made within professional practice.  There are also professional and legal duties to care for the patients under your care as a reasonable and prudent nurse.  The Canadian Nurses Protective Society (CNPS) has provided beneficial guidance in their article, Professional Liability During the Shortage.   

The CRNS/RPNAS have not formally addressed nor interpreted patient abandonment in Saskatchewan.  If you have concerns on this topic, you must contact CRNS/RPNAS.

What Members Need to Know: 

  • Proactively identify patient care needs on every shift and speak with your Manager/designate to ensure adequate registered nurse staffing and provide recommendations or solutions.    
  • If you cannot extend your shift, advise your Manager/designate, and provide them with a reasonable amount of time to find an alternate registered nurse to assume care, transfer patients, or find another alternative solution. 
  • If your Manager/designate cannot locate a replacement registered nurse in a reasonable amount of time and they are not a registered nurse, ask to speak with the Out-of-Scope RN/RPN in the chain of command to identify a solution. 
    • Review Article 9.03 for your authority as a Charge Nurse to call in additional staff based on your professional judgment.
  • Notify your Manager that a Work Situation Report (WSR) will be completed and submit it immediately following the shift.

Whom to Contact

Local President: Your Local President is your collective agreement and professional practice advocate in your working environment.

Labour Relations Officer:  Your LRO at SUN Provincial is your labour relations representative assigned to Locals to address member concerns and protect member interests using the collective agreement.

Nurse Practice Officer: Your NPO at SUN Provincial is your professional practice representative assigned to Locals for support, advice, and assistance.

Regulatory Bodies:  Your regulatory body (CRNS/RPNAS) is mandated to protect the public.  They are available to members for consultation and advisement on professional practice.

Labour Relations Officer & Nurse Practice Officer servicing assignments can be found on the SUN website, or you can contact one of the SUN Provincial offices at:   

Regina
1-800-667-7060
regina@sun-nurses.sk.ca

Saskatoon
1-800-667-3294
saskatoon@sun-nurses.sk.ca