Last year has seen a decrease in the number of nurses working in Manitoba.
According to a recent report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information, over five hundred fewer nurses were employed in 2018 when compared to 2017.
MNU President, Darlene Jackson, talks about one health program in Manitoba that’s greatly affected by the shortage.
"The critical care program in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is very, very short-staffed, with lots of vacancies. That has an impact on the rest of the province. Those beds are used by the entire province. A patient that is critically ill in northern Manitoba that requires transfer to Winnipeg needs a critial care bed. Unfortunately with staffing issues, those beds are few and far between, and there's really no way to increase the numbers of those beds, since we don't have the staff to work them."
She goes on to explain that some nursing programs in Manitoba are cutting seats due to lack of funding, and with the average age of nurses being 45 years old, the province won’t have enough nursing grads to replace those reaching retirement.
She adds that the provincial government needs to work on strategies to bolster the number of nurses working in Manitoba.
"Nurses in this province have been without a collective agreement for more than two years. The provinical government refuses to come to the bargaining table. We are now affected by Bill-28, which is a wage freeze. Neither of those, nor the work load that nurses are working under right now, especially in rural areas and in the WRHA, is a strategy to retain and recruit nurses into healthcare. I think this government needs to have a good, strong look at what they're doing and how they're managing."
Jackson mentions how it’s especially difficult to retain nurses in northern Manitoba.