PCs Still Refuse to Hire Nurses Despite Pandemic Lessons, Allow Vacancy Rates in ICUs to Rise

July 21, 2021

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—The Manitoba NDP has learned there are still significant vacancies in nursing positions and other health care staff within Manitoba’s ICUs, proving the PC government still refuses to invest in health care despite the pandemic overwhelming our system and forcing patients out of province for care.

“We sent our sickest patients to other provinces for care because our hospitals were stretched to breaking point—with the last patient coming home just this week. Clearly that’s evidence we need more nurses staffing beds, not less,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Now is the time to hire as many nurses as possible so that our ICUs are prepared in the event of a fourth wave and Manitobans can get the lifesaving care they need in their own province.”

In a written response to Budget committee proceedings, the Minister of Health reported Manitoba’s ICUs have a 25% vacancy rate of nurses as of May 2021. There are 111 FTE positions unfilled in critical care units across Winnipeg and Brandon and vacancy rates are highest among hospitals that serve as COVID-19 centres. St. Boniface Hospital’s ICU has a nearly 30% vacancy rate, HSC’s ICU has a nearly 20% vacancy rate and the Grace ICU has a 28% vacancy rate.

“ICU nurses and doctors have been pleading with government and the public to do everything possible to relieve the pressure on their staff and now we know exactly why,” said NDP Health Critic Uzoma Asagwara. “Our critical care units are facing acute shortages of staff, and the province failed to fill those vacancies during the worst moment of the pandemic. The Minister of Health needs to tell the public why she allowed ICUs to hit such a crisis point.”