Statement on Economic Reopening

Publish date: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

COVID-19

Put Patients First

On April 29, 2020, MNU President Darlene Jackson issued the following statement in response to Manitoba's economic reopening plan:

“First and foremost, the number one priority for Manitoba nurses is the health and well-being of our patients and the public. COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that can have fatal outcomes, particularly for vulnerable populations. We are fortunate that our collective efforts to flatten the curve have resulted in relatively low confirmed case numbers compared to most other provinces. Undoubtedly, this has saved many lives and helped ensure our health care system has been able to respond to COVID-19 cases.

The decision to reopen the economy with less than a week’s notice does raise our concern about whether the curve can remain flat for the foreseeable future. By significantly loosening restrictions that contradict social distancing recommendations we risk undoing the progress we have made in limiting the spread of the virus, and put more vulnerable people at greater risk of contracting the disease and developing serious health complications.

Case numbers are likely to grow as a result of relaxed social distancing measures, and that is likely to result in more patients in our hospitals and ICUs. That means more exposure to COVID-19 for nurses and all health care workers, who continue to report inadequate access to proper PPE. For example, Shared Health is now encouraging the re-use some types of PPE, which is not recommended by the WHO and CDC except for emergency shortages. MNU continues to urge greater transparency about PPE supplies and why, if PPE are not in short supply, they are encouraging their reuse.

It is also unclear how prepared Manitoba is for a second surge of COVID-19 cases, including if the added capacity is sufficient for accommodating those patients.

MNU will continue to monitor the COVID-19 response and urge greater transparency from the Pallister government and Shared Health officials. Our number one priority must be to prevent as many fatalities and illnesses as possible, so we can ultimately plank the curve as we await a vaccine.”

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