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Sen. LaCrette tells nurses: you can’t leave us at this critical juncture

Health Minister Jonathan La Crette has championed the call for nurses to get $500 honorarium in 2023

Nurses we need you, you cannot leave. If you go the health sector is finished…the situation is not of the best, and we understand that but hear the cry of your Minister.

Those were the words uttered in Parliament last week Tuesday by Health Minister, Senator Jonathan La Crette who issued an emotional plea to disenfranchised nurses to allow the new Dickon Mitchell administration to address their concerns amidst what has been described as a “critical juncture in our healthcare cycle.”

The Health Minister was at the time contributing to the debate on the 2023 Budget during a sitting of the Senate, where he gave assurance to the nursing fraternity that “we are working on how we treat you in 2023 moving forward.”

“We understand that you want upward mobility (and) that you have not been provided that through successive governments over the years. We know (that) you want betterment for your family, you want your son to go to University, your daughter got to go to college, to purchase a house, a better lifestyle,” Sen. La Crette added.

His plea comes days after Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell announced plans to pay all nurses an honorarium of $500 monthly for the next 12 months.

Earlier this month, PM Mitchell told Parliament that $4.2 million has been allocated for this initiative in the 2023 Budget, as the government works towards the regularisation framework as a more long-term solution.

Minister La Crette explained that the decision to pay the honorarium follows engagement with the nursing fraternity in which several concerns were expressed including poor working conditions, job security, shortages, and inadequate compensation.

“I championed along with some of my colleagues to get that honorarium because to me, it was an apology to our nurses for being called chicken thieves…for the way they have been treated over the past few years in a devalued way, in the lack of compassion, and I can go on,” the Health Minister told the Upper House.

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“The olive branch was extended to say to them that you can’t leave us at this critical juncture in our healthcare cycle,” he said, adding that plans are also in place to address matters about other workers in the healthcare sector in the not too distant future.

Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell has criticised the payment to nurses questioning whether or not it will prevent them from venturing abroad for better opportunities noting that the Congress administration had campaigned on a promise to make nurses permanent.

“If I’m not happy and you promise me permanent, and you just give me $500 and I get a contract overseas for 2000 pounds plus or US$3000.00, (do) you think $500 is going to keep me…” contended Dr. Mitchell.

“I wish you luck, I am not saying you shouldn’t do it, and I’m not saying the nurses should be mad – that’s their right. All I’m saying is I wish you luck if you’re able to keep the nurses because of $500.00,” the Opposition leader added.

Sen. La Crette responded by stating that while he cannot predict whether or not the honorarium will stop the nurses from leaving if they made up their minds, “it was worth a try showing them that they still have a value to the development of Grenada’s healthcare sector.”

“It may be nurses today, and it will be you tomorrow – it’s just that this is where the bulk of the bleeding comes from,” he said.

The Dickon Mitchell-led Cabinet of Ministers has already approved the creation of 21 mission-critical positions across the health system to be filled in the next year, and the unfreezing of key positions within the service for the next 12 months.

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