November 30, 2021
Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—Documents show health regions in the southern, northern and parklands parts of province are dealing with a worsening nurse shortage because of PC government cuts and “strategies to balance”.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why our health facilities are struggling to keep beds staffed and sending patients away for care—PC budget cuts are preventing health regions from hiring nurses,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “The PC Leader and her Health Minister say they have tried everything to recruit more nurses, but it appears they have stopped short of actually investing in new staff. Budget cuts don’t fix a staffing crisis, they create one.”
A funding letter from the province to rural regional health authorities obtained by the Manitoba NDP show the government demanded millions in budget cuts to staffing funds as part of a Strategic and Operational Plan implemented in the last fiscal year. The Plan requested each RHA find “strategies to balance” that included “vacancy management, voluntary unpaid days and holding vacant positions open”.
These measures led to a $2.8 million budget cut in Prairie Mountain RHA, a $2.3 million cut in Northern RHA and a $2.2 million cut in Southern Health.
All three health regions are at the centre of a nursing shortage crisis that has created burnout among health workers and forced vulnerable patients to be transferred to other facilities for care hours away from their family and home.
As of September, Prairie Mountain had a 25% vacancy rate for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and a 20% vacancy rate of Registered Nurses (RNs). As of November, hubs in the Northern health region like Thomson and The Pas had a vacancy rate of 33% and 35% for LPNs and a 14% and 29% vacancy for RNs. In Southern Health, 20% of nursing positions were vacant as of October.
“Seniors and other patients who have lived in small towns across Manitoba for their entire lives are being uprooted and transferred hours away, because there isn’t enough nurses to properly care for them in their community,” said NDP Health critic Uzoma Asagwara. “This shortage hasn’t popped up out of nowhere—it's been manufactured by a PC government that puts money ahead of patients.”
Aforementioned documents can be found here.