April 20th, 2023

Nurses on medical leave deserve “thank you” bonus from Houston

HALIFAX – The Houston government’s “thank you” bonus excludes full-time permanent nurses that are off on medical leave. Katie Doyle has been off work since August 2022 but is eager to return to her job as an LPN following a second surgery later this spring for colon cancer.

“I’ve held a permanent position as a nurse for 18 years and it doesn’t feel fair that because I’m off with cancer, I won’t be included in this retention program,” said Doyle. “I worked through all the early waves of COVID, afraid I would bring it home to my three young children and never thought about leaving. It feels very disrespectful now to hear the Premier say I don’t deserve a thank you, simply because I haven’t been able to work for part of the year they’ve decided to cover.”

The announcement made by the Houston government right before the spring budget excludes nurses on medical leave and casual nurses. In the weeks following the announcement, a change was made to ensure nurses on maternity leave are included. Doyle will get a pro-rated amount for the months worked in fiscal 2022/23 before her first surgery in August 2022.

“We know that retaining nurses is one of the most important things we can do right now to help the over-stressed health care system. Full-time nurses on medical leave should absolutely receive this benefit,” said NDP Leader Claudia Chender. “It’s not Katie’s fault that she can’t work due to illness. The Premier should not be excluding those on medical leave from this program.”

The NSNDP is calling on the Houston government to extend the retention effort to those off on medical leave, the same as was done for those off due to pregnancy.