Irshadgul News report,
The union representing workers at Nova Scotia’s 811 telehealth phone line says staff shortages are “jeopardizing” the service that helps connect the public with health information and advice.
“The staffing shortage is so severe that workers have had to work overtime, leaving employees exhausted and exhausted and putting service at risk,” the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union said in a news release Tuesday. ,
The NSGEU said only 17 telehealth aides are employed by Emergency Medical Care Inc., which has been contracted by the provincial government to run the service.
Workers are the first point of contact for people who call 811, they collect information that needs to be shared with nurses, and they also help get people on the waiting list for a primary health care provider Are. They also make more urgent calls to 911.
“The work these people do is extremely important,” Hugh Gillis, NSGEU’s first vice president, told CBC News in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “It is part of the overall health care system. They are doing a great job under extreme pressure and until they are paid properly, we will continue to be under staffing pressure.”
The union news release states that EMCI pays the 17 workers $18.44 an hour, “which is well below what is considered a living wage in Nova Scotia, and more than what HRM’s 311 service pays for people doing similar work.” Eight dollars an hour is less than that.”
Gillis said the increase in pay would encourage more people to apply for the 811 positions.
Contract expires in 2024
At HRM, where 811 is based, employees would need to earn $23.50 an hour to earn a living.
While the current contract between the union and EMCI will not expire until October 2024, the union wants EMCI to resolve the wage issue now “in the face of unprecedented inflationary pressures”.
“There’s definitely room for improvement and that’s what we’re trying to achieve here,” Gillis said.
ECMI deferred its comment to the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Welfare.
In an email to CBC on Tuesday, the department said 811 is a vital service and its operators are “a vital part of the care many families rely on.”
It added that the province is focusing on the recruitment and retention of all its health care workers, including 811 employees. It added that it is “aware of the challenges” ECMI is facing, and is in discussions with employers about what “would be a mid-contract” solution that might be possible.