Union raises burnout concerns over Health PEI’s summer incentives

Some workers offered additional shifts this summer, and to be paid time-and-a-half or even double-time pay for shifts that are deemed 'critical'

Union raises burnout concerns over Health PEI’s summer incentives

One union is raising the issue of potential burnout among healthcare workers in Prince Edward Island (PEI) after Health PEI offered additional shifts to some workers for this summer, according to a report.

Health P.E.I. is offering some healthcare workers additional compensation to take on additional shifts this summer, especially during evenings, weekends and holidays.

The new incentives could see P.E.I. Nurses' Union members receive time-and-a-half or even double-time pay for shifts that are deemed "critical,” according to a CBC report.

The union was first to strike a deal with Health P.E.I. on Friday, according to the report.

"It's a little late to the game," Brookins said, noting that a lot of nurses were frustrated with the development because they already had summer plans.

"We're hopeful that ... if people pick up one or two shifts, it could be the difference of me getting my vacation or not getting my vacation." 

Health P.E.I. missed the deadline to post vacation schedules by June 1 because of "unclear staffing picture for the summer," it said, according to the report.

Financial compensation is the top priority for professionals this year, according to a previous report.

Workers might ‘burn out’ over the summer

However, the incentives could lead to more workers burning out, according to one union.

"That is one thing that's been offered is to pay people a premium to work extra," said Tracy Robertson, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), in the CBC report. "We're a little leery about that because it might encourage people to burn out over the summer because if you're already working full-time, it's maybe not best if you keep picking up shifts."

The union represents about 1,300 members across the province, including lab workers, respiratory therapists, pharmacy techs and some administrative staff.

IUOE is still negotiating with Health P.E.I. to reach a deal for additional money over the summer months to help cover their vacation shifts. 

Nearly seven in 10 employees say that their mental health stayed the same or worsened in the past year, according to a previous report from Calm.com.

Health PEI’s is offering the incentives in hopes that it will make it easier for other health workers to take vacation this summer.

However, one union said that the incentives could lead to more problems.

Health P.E.I. offered similar incentives last year, and it prompted some people to work less, said Karen Jackson, president of the Union of Public Sector Employees (UPSE).

"It incentivised a part-time and casual workforce, many people dropped from full-time in order to be paid the incentive, so it actually had the opposite effect for our members," Jackson said.  

"Many of our part-timers and casuals who usually pick up extra shifts didn't need to pick up as many shifts to have the same wage." 

The union is still negotiating with Health P.E.I. over a deal on pay for the summer months’ work.

Previously, Green MLA Matt MacFarlane put forward a motion in the provincial legislature to have the government roll out the rest of the retention bonuses set aside for healthcare workers in the province. However, 13 MLAs voted no on the motion, including all nine PC cabinet ministers who voted, according to a previous CBC report.

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