‘Enough is enough’: Manitoba nurses rally against health care changes

Hundreds of Manitoba nurses gathered on the steps of the Legislature May 2, 2018. Christian Aumell/Global News

It’s no secret that the Manitoba Nurses Union is not on the government’s side when it comes to the plan for health care reform.

READ MORE: Phase 2 rollout of health care changes in Winnipeg behind schedule

As changes have been rolled out, the union has expressed disappointment and disapproval, calling on the Progressive Conservatives to reconsider what they’re doing.

Those cries came to a head Wednesday afternoon, when hundreds of nurses took a break from their annual general meeting to rally on the steps of the Legislature.

“Our health care system is under attack. We have to do everything in our power to stop it,” retiring MNU President Sandi Mowat exclaimed to a passionate crowd. “This government is forcing cuts on patients and nurses providing care. Patients don’t have the same access. Nurses are being stretched thin, working a ton of overtime.”

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READ MORE: Mandatory OT at St. Boniface Hospital at ‘crisis level’: nurses union

Members of the union reiterated what kind of stress is being placed on nurses, especially at St. Boniface Hospital.

“In 2017, nurses worked mandatory overtime 328 times. In 2018, as of this past Monday, we’re already at 511 mandated shifts of overtime,” president of St. Boniface Local 5 Karen Sadler said.

“Research shows, when you are tired, you are more likely to make mistakes. We are worried for our patients. We are worried for our nurses.”

The union also took exception to claims by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority that wait times are down since the Healing Our Health System changes were first rolled out last year, with one speaker saying wait times are actually up 50 per cent.

READ MORE: Winnipeg hospital wait times down since implementing changes: WRHA

“We’re looking at this year’s data already — they [looked at] last year’s still. In the last couple of months, [wait times] have been up again,” Mowat told reporters after the rally. “The flu is long over. Lots of the things they’ve been attributing to the flu don’t actually apply. The highest incidence of mandatory overtime at St. Boniface is on their labour and delivery unit. That has nothing to do with the flu. It’s about the consolidation of those units.”
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The union also complained that the province has not made good on their promise to put in more personal care beds, having instead rushed into changes to emergency rooms.

Global News reached out to the WRHA for a response to the union rally. We will share any comments as they are made available.

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