“Our government recognizes the need to ensure Manitoba has a strong nursing workforce, now and into the future,” said Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson.
“Nursing vacancies have been a longstanding challenge, not just in Manitoba, but of course across our country as well.”
Ministers say they’re working with post-secondary institutions to increase nursing education seats by about 50 per cent, beginning as early as the 2021-2022 intake.
Currently, there about 800 seats across six publicly-funded schools.
“Our government will work with post-secondary institutions to identify the steps needed to be taken to ensure they increase their seat capacity in a sustainable way,” Stefanson continued.
Wayne Ewasko, Minister of Skills and Immigration, said additional licensed practical nurses could begin graduating as early as 2023, and more registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses in 2025.
He adds the government has $7.5 million ready to get the expanded programs off the ground, and is willing to continue funding based on post-secondary institutions’ needs.
Separately, the government announced financial support for internationally educated nurses (IEN) to assist with obtaining licenses to work in Manitoba.
It’s prepared to offer up to $23,000 per IEN to cover clinical competence assessments and bridge training, along with other expenses such as living allowance, transportation and child care.
“These supports will be tailored to each individual needs,” said Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Jobs.
“We’ll be working closely with key stakeholders, and various community organizations will help us identify and guide these nurses through the steps they will need to take access for the support.”
Those wishing to access the financial support can do so through the government’s website.
Manitoba Liberal leader Dougland Lamont issued a statement later in the day, slamming the PCs for not making Thursday’s announcement “five years ago.”
“The PCs ignored months and years of warnings, closed ERs, ICUs, and deleted thousands of positions. They treated nurses as disposable, forced them to work overtime, and pushed them past the point of burnout so they either quit or retired,” Lamont wrote.
“These are colossal failures that nurses alone won’t address.”