NDP Calls on Province to Take Action on Hospital Staff Shortage

May 18, 2021

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB— The Manitoba NDP are calling on the PC government to request additional healthcare staff from other provinces to address the critical shortage of ICU and ER staff in the third wave. The NDP tabled a letter in the Legislature today from frontline healthcare staff at the Grace ER that highlights how the combination of PC healthcare cuts and the third wave of the pandemic is endangering the lives of patients and pushing nurses and healthcare staff to a breaking point.

“We know that the best response to the pandemic comes from listening to doctors, nurses and healthcare workers,” said NDP Healthcare critic Uzoma Asagwara. “But for weeks now the Premier and his Health Minister have ignored the calls for help from our frontline healthcare workers. The PCs healthcare cuts left our hospitals vulnerable and their refusal to staff up before the third wave is putting patients at risk in our emergency departments and ICUs. It’s time for the Premier to admit he needs help and ask other provinces for additional staff to address the weakness in our healthcare system.”

The letter from frontline Grace staff explains how the hospital was “in no way ready for the third wave.” It states that it is “not uncommon” for patients to wait in hallways for 50 hours before receiving care. While patients are in the hallways “code blues and seizures...are common because nurses are stretched so thin they are unable to monitor patient condition close enough to catch when a patient is declining.”

The letter states the dire situation in the Grace ER and other hospitals is a result of “governmental neglect,” including lack of funding and lack of supports for mental health and addictions crisis. The letter says retaining staff is difficult and cites a recent staff survey that showed 50% of staff are looking for positions elsewhere.

“The Premier needs to listen to healthcare workers and take action today to save lives in the third wave,” said Asagwara.