Overtime shoots up pay for Alberta nurses

RN earns over $500,000 in 2022: report

Overtime shoots up pay for Alberta nurses

One registered nurse in Alberta earned well half a million dollars in compensation in 2022, according to Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) sunshine list.

The nurse earned compensation amounting to $510,727.75, without accounting for $22,595.98 they also got from other benefits.

The nurse’s compensation eclipsed the earnings of top health officials at AHS, including:

  • Jeremy Theal, senior medical director ($490,490.76)
  • Mauro Chies, president & CEO ($484,961.88)
  • Francois Belanger, VP and chief medical officer ($472,668.67)
  • Mark Joffe, VP and medical director ($460,337.45)
  • Sid Viner, VP and medical director ($434,178.43)

In March, Nova Scotia announced it was providing extra incentives in hopes of keeping nurses within the government’s healthcare workforce. The province is giving a $10,000 bonus to nurses in the publicly funded healthcare system, and another $10,000 next year to nurses who commit to staying in the system longer.

‘Unsustainable’ overtime work

CBC reported that five registered nurses from AHS and one from Covenant Health earned over $250,000 in 2022, citing sunshine lists from both. Only one nurse from AHS earned that much the two previous years, and none from Covenant. Not one nurse from both earned that much in 2019.

Meanwhile, 20 AHS registered nurses and one from Covenant earned more than $250,000 last year. There were 11 and one, respectively, who did the same in 2021. Two AHS nurses did it in 2020, none from Covenant. One AHS nurse also earned that much in 2019, none from Covenant.

Among registered nurses who earned over $200,000 in 2022, 99 came from AHS and 12 from Covenant. The numbers in 2021 were 48 and six, respectively. Twelve AHS nurses earned that much in 2020 and 18 in 2019. Only one Covenant registered nurse earned over $200,000 in 2019, and none in 2020.

Meanwhile, a total of 615 AHS registered nurses and 70 Covenant registered nurses earned over $150,000 in 2022, up from 378 and 50, respectively in 2021; 165 and 18, respectively, in 2020; and 252 and 19, respectively, in 2019.

"I don't think we've seen numbers like that, ever," said Heather Smith, United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) president, in the CBC report.

Voluntary, coerced and mandatory overtime must be driving the increase in pay, said Smith.

"It's not sustainable," she said. "These individuals cannot continue that level, that intensity of work without rest for a very long time."

Previously, the only nurses logging hundreds of hours of overtime pay were working in remote communities with few other health professionals, she said.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), more than 236,000 (21%) of employees in the health sector worked overtime in 2021. They spent 8.2 hours a week of paid overtime and another 5.8 hours per week of unpaid overtime.

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