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“Mortal’ B.C. nurses rally at legislature, call for better working conditions

Many B.C. nurses considering leaving jobs, union vice-president says
Protesters hold signs during a rally Tuesday at the legislature for the BC Nurses’ Union during National Nursing Week. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)

Members of the BC Nurses’ Union ended a rally Tuesday afternoon on the legislature grounds to the beat of Aretha Franklin’s Respect, which ran as a theme amid their demands for more equitable work conditions.

More than 200 nurses and nursing students from Dawson Creek, Prince George, Okanagan and just about everywhere in between arrived downtown for National Nursing Week to march from the Fairmont Empress Hotel to the legislature May 10, following a vigil held Monday.

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Dozens of participants sported signs demanding greater respect for B.C. nurses amid the challenges and hardships of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many of you have had to endure the heartbreaking act of holding the hand of a patient with COVID who is dying alone,” said Aman Grewal, BCNU president and a nurse of 35 years’ experience.

“It is time for real change for nurses,” she continued. “It is time for (the provincial government) to respect our nurses.”

In solidarity with protesters’ demands for greater respect from Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix, Joseph Thomas of the Esquimalt Nation shared a couple moments of Indigenous singing and drumming.

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BCNU vice-president Adriane Gear reported that nurses are facing crushing workloads in unsafe conditions without personal protective equipment, having to work overtime and receiving parking tickets at work.

In wards such as emergency and intensive care, as many as one in two nurses are considering quitting their jobs, Gear said.

“The truth is we’re not heroes and we don’t have super powers. We are mere mortals.”


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BC Nurses’ Union vice-president Adriane Gear addresses protesters on the legislature grounds Tuesday during a rally for National Nursing Week. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
BC Nurses’ Union president Aman Grewal addresses protesters at a rally Tuesday on the legislature grounds during National Nursing Week. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)