Planning for the pandemic: Nurses' safety is not negotiable - CFNU



    ST. JOHN'S, June 8 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Federation of Nurses
Unions (CFNU) passed a strong resolution at their Biennial Convention in St.
John's demanding full protection for health care staff during any pandemic.
    Delegates unanimously supported entrenching the "precautionary principle"
in public health planning in order to ensure the safety of health care workers
and the public. The precautionary principle means erring on the side of
caution. When there is any question or doubt about what protection is
required, the higher level of protection must be used.
    CFNU and its member organizations will be lobbying for amendments to
build in the "precautionary principle" as a core element of the Canadian
Pandemic Influenza Plan and of provincial plans.
    The principle was not in play during the SARS outbreak in Toronto where
two nurses and 42 others died. Ontario Justice Archie Campbell's final report
on the SARS outbreak found that nurses had been supplied with inadequate
protection, particularly masks.
    "Front-line nurses must have the same level of health and safety
protection in their workplaces as other workers," said CFNU President Linda
Silas. "Our safety is not negotiable. Nurses need to be protected to care for
their patients and their families."
    In a position statement on staffing for a pandemic, CFNU stated:
"Frighteningly, the evolution of the threat cannot be predicted, nor can the
nature or severity of the outbreak. For this reason, one of the greatest
threats to the health system is not just the outbreak of a pandemic, but an
inability to limit the transmission and to provide adequate care."
    The policy also states "From the experience with SARS, we know first-hand
how existing nursing shortages 'were magnified when fewer nurses were
available to work because of home/work quarantine, additional demands for
infection control and restrictions on employment in more than one health care
facility'."
    In addition to lobbying governments, the resolution calls on employers to
properly supply, fit and train nurses on the appropriate masks. The statement
also calls for the federal government to release announced money to the
provinces to help provide the N-95 - or greater - masks.

    CFNU's position statement is available at www.cfnu.ca.




For further information:

For further information: Teresa Neuman, Acting Director of
Communications/Campaigns, CFNU, 613-292-9106 (Cell); Peter D. Birt, Manager,
Public Relations, Ontario Nurses' Association, 416-300-8415 (Cell); The CFNU
Biennial Convention is happening at the St. John's Convention Centre, Marconi
Hall

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Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

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