Dire situation for Saskatchewan registered nursing, survey finds

Saskatchewan’s registered nurses are demoralized, exhausted, and losing confidence in provincial leadership, according to an annual survey of membership conducted by the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN).

The survey was conducted online in February and March of 2022. The questionnaire was sent to all SUN members, of whom 1,530 chose to take part. The random probability sample of this size would yield a general margin of error plus-or-minus 2.3 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.

SUN members are working short-staffed and considering leaving the profession

More than four-in-five (82.8 per cent) SUN members reported permanent or temporary vacancies for registered nurses in their workplace, which is more than double the 39.7 per cent who indicated the same in 2021. Alarmingly, 89.2 per cent say there is currently a shortage of registered nurses available to cover absences or to meet higher service demands.

Almost three-in-five (57.4 per cent) say they’ve considered stepping away from registered nursing in the past 12 months.  

“While the provincial budget begins to tackle future staffing needs in Saskatchewan healthcare, it does very little to address the crisis we’re in right now,” said SUN President, Tracy Zambory. “Without immediate relief, more registered nurses are going to leave the profession. It feels like we’re trying to dig ourselves out of a hole without a shovel.”

The impact of the pandemic is significant and getting worse

Saskatchewan’s registered nurses have shouldered the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, and bear scars for their efforts, according to the membership survey.

More than seven-in-ten SUN members report a greater concern with safety (72.8 per cent), feelings of anxiety and helplessness (72.5 per cent), feelings of frustration or anger (77 per cent) and feelings of uncertainty and lack of confidence in leadership (76.2 per cent).

In fact, the lack of confidence in leadership couldn’t be more clear: Registered nurses gave overall negative ratings to all levels of governance when asked about the pandemic response. The worst ratings (69.9 per cent negative) were given to elected Saskatchewan government officials, with the Premier and Minister of Health specifically receiving a negative performance rating from 68 per cent of respondents.

“Saskatchewan’s registered nurses are feeling unheard by the provincial government,” said Zambory. “Every time they work short-staffed, every time the waiting room is full beyond capacity, they’re reminded that the Government of Saskatchewan has stopped listening to their pleas for help.”

SUN represents more than 11,000 Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), and graduates in Saskatchewan.


For media inquiries:

Lars Murran

Public Relations Officer