Provincial update on changes and cuts

Publish date: Monday, February 12, 2018

As the provincial government continues its program of service cuts and changes within the WRHA and rural regions, MNU is providing regular updates on anticipated changes still to come.

Rural Update

As indicated in our last update in December 2017, the province appears to be planning to reorganize and consolidate health services in rural regions. Asides from speculation that the government may close some rural emergency rooms and transition them into long term care facilities, the details largely remain secret.

Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen has confirmed that regional proposals are being reviewed by the newly created provincial health organization Shared Health, and Premier Brian Pallister has indicated some rural hospitals may close or be converted to personal care homes. Minister Goertzen also suggested that more cuts to RHA management may be on the way. However, no further details have been provided since our last update.

A group of rural municipalities created Western Manitoba Health Care Task Force, which held town halls regarding the closure of emergency departments in several Prairie Mountain communities. However, the Task Force does not have official standing with Manitoba Health, and it is unclear what influence those recommendations may have on the provincial government.

Members should expect announcements on changes to rural health services sometime after Shared Health launches on April 1, 2018.

WRHA Update

Phase 1 of the WRHA’s restructuring plan has been completed, and a report was released in late January outlining the WRHA’s evaluation of the changes. The report is inconsistent with what we’ve been hearing from nurses on the front lines every day. Click here to see our response to the report.

Employment Security Processes have now been completed at HSC, St. Boniface, Quick Care Clinics, Riverview, Grace, Victoria and Misericordia. Approximately 2,000 nurses in the WRHA received deletion notices.

Layoffs continue to be a concern. Most nurses have found new positions, however, 31 nurses remained laid off as of February 12. Phase 2 will have significant impacts on care delivery, and Employment Security Processes are expected at Seven Oaks, Concordia and the Grace. The recent Wait Times Task Force report urged caution around Phase 2, calling on the government to postpone further closures until Phase 1 is properly evaluated and demonstrated to be successful. They also call for Phase 2 implementation to be staggered, by delaying the Seven Oaks Emergency Department closure until other effects (including the closure of the Concordia Emergency Department) are evaluated. The WRHA is expected to provide updated timelines for all of the Phase 2 changes in March.

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MNU has been steadfast in opposing these disruptive changes and cuts to the health care system. Manitobans will have fewer options for treatment, and this poses significant risks for the quality of care in this province. We will continue to speak out!

In response, we have launched a letter-writing campaign at putpatientsfirst.ca. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to share your thoughts on the cuts and changes with your MLA and Premier Brian Pallister – it only takes a minute!

Our online efforts have been successful in raising public awareness. Last year we collected over 9,000 petition signatures calling on government to reverse the cuts.

You can also take action and stand up for safe patient care by taking part in Wear White Wednesday! Send your photos to maustman@manitobanurses.ca for a chance to win a prize. We share photos we receive on our Facebook page.

For regular MNU updates, make sure you subscribe to the Pulse: MNU’s new weekly email newsletter. Update your email address by logging in here, and you’ll be subscribed automatically.

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