April 25th, 2023

Houston must reverse unfair restriction of bonuses for nurses on medical leave

HALIFAX – The Premier must reverse the unfair restriction of bonuses for nurses and healthcare workers off on medical leave. Following the reporting of Katie Doyle’s story dozens of nurses on medical leave have come forward to share their experience of being excluded from the full $10,000 “thank you” bonus from the Houston government.

“These are people who have put their own health and well-being on the line to take care of our families and neighbours in some of the worst times during the pandemic and beyond,” said NDP Leader Claudia Chender. “Full-time nurses on medical leave should absolutely receive this benefit. The Premier should not be excluding those who are off because of illness or injury.”

When it became clear that healthcare workers off on maternity or parental leave would not get the full bonus, changes were made to ensure they would. The same should be done for people like Natasha Denney who are off on medical leave.

Denney is a full-time registered nurse (RN) in Truro who is on medical leave for breast cancer. The single mother worked in the COVID ICU during the first waves of the pandemic and is currently preparing to return to work after two surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments to treat her cancer.

“When the Premier announced this bonus I think we all breathed a sigh of relief, like the tides were finally changing. To spend my career advocating for others when they are sick, and then find out I am not eligible because I got sick feels like a door being slammed in my face,” said Denney. “I was part of a team that stepped up to work in the ICU in my hometown when it was terrifying to go to work, and I still hold a permanent position. I didn’t have a choice to get cancer, being excluded feels like a punishment for getting sick.”

NDP Leader Claudia Chender and NSNDP Health Spokesperson Susan Leblanc sent a letter to the Premier today calling on him to do the right thing and extend the retention payment to those off on medical leave.