AHS manager tells healthcare workers to become Tik Tok influencers to supplement income due to policy limiting overtime

In an email leaked to the Progress Report, an AHS unit manager mocks Royal Alexandra Hospital nurses for daring to think they deserve overtime pay. “If utilizing only [overtime] is how you want to make ends meet, this may be the wrong profession for the long game. May I suggest some side jobs: Investment Banking? Fund Manager? Tik Tok Influencer?” 

Workers’ right to fair pay and a safe workplace isn’t a laughing matter, says the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA).

“To suggest they become a Tik Tok influencer or fund manager to supplement their income is just insulting to these nurses,” says David Harrigan, the director labour relations at the UNA. 

The email starts off by thanking the nurses for their hard work in keeping patients safe, comfortable and cared for but then gets passive-aggressive. 

“The goal of our government that has been instructed to AHS as a whole is to be fiscally responsible. I know some of you are not truly interested in that point,” the manager accuses, “however, as we are all taxpayers, it is important to know that our hard [earned] money…is being used by our government wisely - particularly, in the area of healthcare! On that note, one key area of being fiscally responsible for us in… Medicine is to reduce our overtime spending.” 

"It saddens me to think that if OT was not an option, some of you would not want to come in and help your fellow teammates and have the unit short ," reads the email. 

Harrigan says the UNA has filed a grievance and asked for an apology. “The level of inappropriateness was stunning,” said Harrigan. “It’s suggesting that it’s the employee’s fault for asking or working overtime. It also sends a message that you shouldn’t be taking time off when you’re sick.” 

The manager goes on to note that because staff/patient ratios aren’t mandated in the collective agreement the nurses should “take note of our colleagues in Ontario - they have far worse patient to staff ratio.”

The email then says that the unit will be operating with less staff and as little overtime as possible going forward. 

Back in January the UNA said that it was “extremely concerned” by AHS’ plan to cut use of overtime and agency staffing by 10 per cent

On March 1, the provincial government of B.C. announced minimum nurse-to-patient ratios and significant retention and recruitment investments

And on March 4, the federal government released a nursing retention toolkit that goes into detail on what health authorities across Canada can do to maintain and increase their nursing workforce.  

The goal statement of the nursing retention toolkit states that employers need to “Support physically safe and psychologically brave workplaces by implementing staffing practices (e.g., nurse-patient ratios) that reflect factors like patient acuity, nurse experience, and work-life balance.”

Alberta Health Services did comment on the email. "The email clearly aimed to stress accountability and the importance of reducing overtime, but the language used lacked sensitivity, and should not have been used," says a spokesperson. "Our managers are tasked with controlling costs, including overtime, while prioritizing quality care for patients. While overtime is necessary at times due to front-line vacancies, minimizing its use is crucial for both staff and organizational well-being."

You can read the entire email below.