Critical Care and ER Nurse Vacancies Rise during Stefanson’s Time as Health Minister

November 25, 2021

Treaty 1 and Daktoa Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—The number of vacant nursing positions at Winnipeg’s largest hospitals continues to grow, and in some hospitals has actually worsened since the third wave of the pandemic.

In Question Period today, NDP Leader Wab Kinew tabled government documents that show nurse vacancy rates across departments within Winnipeg hospitals as of June 2021. Vacancies in critical care, emergency and surgery units have grown despite the PC government’s repeated promises they are hiring more nurses to fill these spaces.

“These numbers show just how debilitating the need for more nurses in our health care system really is. This is from Heather Stefanson’s time as Health Minister,” said Wab Kinew. “Nurses are the backbone of our hospitals and the lynchpin to getting patients the life-saving surgeries and treatment they need. But Heather Stefanson and Brian Pallister’s cuts have put that all at risk, and they’ve let the situation go from bad to worse. It will take years to fix the damage the PCs have caused, but the NDP is ready to get work to hire more nurses and fix health care.”

At St. Boniface Hospital, critical care units have more than a 36% vacancy rate of nurses, a 26% vacancy rate in its emergency department and a 20% vacancy rate overall. Health Sciences Center has a 22% vacancy rate in critical care, a more than 20% vacancy rate in surgery and an 18% vacancy rate overall. The Grace Hospital has more than a 36% vacancy rate in critical care, a 25% vacancy rate in emergency and a 20% vacancy rate overall.

“The PC's have been promising to fix the nursing shortage for a few years now, but things have only gotten worse,” said Uzoma Asagwara, NDP Healthcare critic. “As Health Minister, Heather Stefanson fired nurses and gutted the system, so it’s no wonder Manitobans don’t believe her when she offers empty platitudes now as Premier. Manitobans want a government that cares enough to invest in nursing, and to treat nurses with respect. Only Wab Kinew and the NDP will do that.”