*Updated May 1* MNU Responds: PCH staff to be limited to single site

Publish date: Tuesday, April 28, 2020

COVID-19

Health and safety

Health care

MNU members

Put Patients First

Union news

Workplace issues/practices

On April 27, the Manitoba government and Shared Health announced plans to introduce a public health order to limit nurses and other staff at personal care homes to a single site. This policy will have a significant impact on some of our 2,500+ members that work in personal care homes across Manitoba. 

A list of affected sites provided by Shared Health is available here. The order is effective May 1, 2020, and is expected to last at least 6 months. Similar orders have been implemented in other provinces such as B.C., Saskatchewan and Quebec. Of particular concern, the order does allow employers to forgo certain provisions of the collective agreement, the Employment Standards Code and the Labour Relations Act.

Fundamentally, nurses agree that we must limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19 across all health care facilities. This is why we are advocating for enhanced PPE protections based on the precautionary principle, and why we’ve been in favour or visitor restrictions and other measures that reduce the chance of spread among health care workers. Limiting nurses and other staff to a single personal care home will also help slow the spread of COVID-19. However, our issue is with the approach the government has taken. Not only is this government suspending the rights of nurses, this decision was also made without meaningfully consultation with the unions involved.

In terms of how the order will be applied, for nurses who work at more than one licensed personal care home, Shared Health has said in most cases nurses will work at the PCH at which they hold the highest EFT. However, this is subject to change according to operational needs. If a nurse works in more than one facility that is NOT a PCH, they can continue working at the other site according to the current order. Shared Health has indicated they may expand the scope of the order in the future to include additional care settings (ie acute care, home care, etc).

Shared Health has emphasized internally and publicly that they are working to ensure nurses do not see a significant reduction in their hours. 

The order does make clear that nurses who currently work more than a 1.0EFT between two facilities will have the opportunity to work up to 1.3 EFT at a single site, but will not be paid overtime beyond 1.0 EFT, until the 1.3EFT threshold is reached.

Employers have been given the right to override scheduling provisions where needed. Nurses that don’t currently work a particular shift might be required to do so in order to maintain their hours. How this unfolds will vary according to facilities and their operational requirements.

All affected nurses will continue to accrue seniority, but how this will affect scheduling and other matters is not yet clear.

The potential for a reduction in hours and the effects this could have on livelihood is a major concern for many nurses. Another major concern is the possible consequences of a reduction in care hours for residents. For years, MNU has advocated for increases in direct care hours per resident per day in LTC settings. In 2018, we published our recommendations in a report, The Future of Long-Term Care is Now, which recommended increasing by law the minimum required direct care hours to 4.1 per resident per day. This recommendation was drawn from extensive evidence across North America showing that care needs are becoming more complex due to an aging population, and reflects best practices from other jurisdictions. Manitoba’s current guideline requiring 3.6 care hours falls short, and many facilities are unable even to meet this benchmark due to short staffing.

Unfortunately, despite public comments, both the Pallister government and Shared Health continue to show little willingness to work with MNU and other health care unions to address these and other concerns brought forward by nurses.

Rest assured, MNU will do everything in its power to ensure this policy does not erode staffing levels or negatively impact resident care standards. We will share more information with affected members as it becomes available.

Additional Information

  • While we do not necessarily agree with their positions, Shared Health has produced an FAQ to address questions affected employees may have at this time.
  • MNU has also developed a  Q and A to address additional member questions. This document will be updated as needed.
  • Shared Health's list of affected licensed Personal Care Homes.

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