Manitoba nurses vote overwhelmingly in favour of strike, union says

The Manitoba Nurses' Union says 98 per cent of its members have voted in favour of a strike. Getty Images

As Manitoba’s health-care system continues to struggle through the third wave of COVID-19, nurses in the province have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike.

Manitoba nurses have gone more than four years without a contract and Manitoba Nurses’ Union president Darlene Jackson said the COVID-19 pandemic has made a bad situation worse.

Read more: Winnipeg losing ‘irreplaceable’ senior nurses: former ER nurse

“We are so proud of our members, they really have sent a strong message with this strike mandate,” said Jackson in a release Thursday.

“We were painted into a corner by this government, and we were left with no choice but to act.”

The union, which represents more than 12,000 nurses, said 98 per cent of members voted to strike with 11,954 votes cast.

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The union has previously said nurses won’t be removed from the front lines if the strike vote were to pass. Instead, they’ve proposed staggered work-to-rule actions in order to make sure patient care continues.

Read more: Manitoba health care support workers being asked to perform nurses’ duties, union says

Jackson said Thursday she remains committed to continuing with collective bargaining to avoid a strike.

“We will now be discussing next steps with our Provincial Collective Bargaining Committee,” said Jackson.

“Our commitment, as always, is to our patients and Manitobans can be assured that we will not be disrupting patient care.”

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Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said he would not comment on the vote.

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Earlier this week emergency room doctors in Winnipeg wrote to the Manitoba government to warn of staffing shortages and low morale among nurses.

Read more: Winnipeg ER doctors pen letter to province, health authorities over senior nurses quitting

The letter, signed by some 60 doctors, said emergency room nurses are exhausted from consecutive shifts and mandatory overtime. It said many senior nurses have resigned.

The letter calls on the province to boost wages, benefits and staffing levels

–With files from The Canadian Press

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