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Number of nurses working in Manitoba reaches all-time high

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Erin Selby in July of 2013 announcing that nurse practitioner students who agree to work in rural communities after graduating will be eligible for grants to cover their tuition costs. At right is a graph showing the net loss and gain of working nurses in Manitoba from 1993 to present.

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Erin Selby in July of 2013 announcing that nurse practitioner students who agree to work in rural communities after graduating will be eligible for grants to cover their tuition costs. At right is a graph showing the net loss and gain of working nurses in Manitoba from 1993 to present. Photo Store

The number of nurses working in Manitoba has reached an all-time high, but the Opposition Tories are wondering why there are still so many nursing vacancies.

The Selinger government trumpeted newly released statistics Wednesday that placed the number of active nurses in the province at 17,795 in 2013, a gain of 143 over the previous year.

But the Conservatives noted that the number of vacant positions — permanent and term — also rose in the province. That number stood at 1,777 in 2013 compared with 1,494 in 2012.

"This is the worst nursing shortage in the 15 years they’ve been in government," Conservative health critic Myrna Driedger said. "It’s climbed year after year after year."

According to the 2013 Manitoba Nursing Labour Market Supply report released Wednesday, there were 836 term and permanent nurse vacancies in Winnipeg, including 668 for registered nurses.

Health Minister Erin Selby said the demand for nurses has increased as the government has expanded the number of clinics in the province, creating more opportunities for nurses.

Last month, the Manitoba Nurses Union ratified a new four-year contract that will see the wages of most of the province’s nurses climb by more than 10 per cent.

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