Media Statement: MNU President Darlene Jackson responds to COVID surge, new public health restrictions

Publish date: Friday, October 30, 2020

COVID-19

Health and safety

Health care

Politics & Government

"We are at a crisis point. Lives are at stake. In the strongest possible terms, nurses are urging the public to follow public health orders. Stay home as much as possible. Limit your contacts. Wash your hands frequently. Wear a mask when you have to go out. We need to stop the spread and keep our hospitalization rates down as much as possible. The hospital system is at capacity, and nurses are facing extremely heavy workloads. Flu season is upon us too.

"In the absence of rapid testing and robust contact tracing, restrictions are absolutely necessary to control the spread of the virus. It didn’t have to be this way. The Pallister government had months to prepare. They sat on their hands, refused to invest in our public health system, and now we are at a tipping point.

"Without adequate testing capacity and contact tracing, we are flying blind in a hurricane. Nurses were sounding the alarm on public health capacity for many months, but our concerns were ignored.

"Even in today’s announcement, there is no investment to bolster the number of health care professionals. To support those already in the system, the government must create a central, rapid intake, and we need to incentivize recruitment and retention. Other jurisdictions have made investments to recruit and retain nurses in a variety of ways. Ontario has invested more than $50 million to support their recruitment efforts. Manitoba has done nothing of the sort, and we’re hearing from nurses that are still struggling to get into the system to help.

"We also need to make sure staff on the frontlines have absolutely everything they need, including N95 masks, so they can contain the spread and keep patients safe. In too many instances, nurses are facing barriers accessing N95 masks even after conducting a point-of-care-risk assessment. We’re hearing reports of equipment shortages in some areas. It’s past time for the Pallister government to ensure adequate PPE and supplies are being provided to all health care workers that require them.”

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