An Expensive Band-Aid: PCs Spend Millions on Private Nurses in Winnipeg


Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB — New government documents reveal the PC government handed $3.9 million over to private nursing agencies to fill staffing shortages in Winnipeg, in just one year.

“Manitobans work hard and they deserve a government that can be trusted to deliver health care and good value for money," said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. "But this reckless spending from the PC government on private health care is only making things worse. The PC government has disrespected nurses and the work they do from day one. That’s why the first step to fixing the staffing shortage is electing a government that nurses trust.”

Government records indicate from September 2021 to November 2022 the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spent more than $3.9 million on fees to private nursing agencies to help fill gaps in major hospitals.

While the records do not include Health Sciences Centre, spending is highest at Seven Oaks Hospital at $1.2 million for the year. Both St. Boniface Hospital and the Grace Hospital spent around $810,000. Previous government documents shared by the NDP indicate these hospitals are struggling with high vacancy rates in their surgical, emergency and acute care wards.

After media reported the PC government spent $40 million on private agency nurses province-wide in 2021, the Health Minister said she “has not set a target for year-over-year reduction in agency nurse spending” but that her department was considering it. And Premier Heather Stefanson has said she has no problem with the province’s spending on agency nurses.

“The PCs keep saying they will tackle this problem, but it only gets worse with every passing year,” said NDP Health Critic Uzoma Asagwara. “Let’s face it: they don’t know how to fix it and they’re not trying. This is a government that’s given up. Our team is talking to nurses about how to make jobs in the public system better so we can stop losing our nurses to other provinces and the private sector.”