Province restores 30 of 75 nursing spots
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/06/2022 (365 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The provincial government has announced funding to train 30 nurses just years after Red River College was forced to slash 75 nursing seats due to a huge provincial funding cut.
The province will spend $830,000 to add 30 nurse training seats at RRC Polytechnic as part of a longer-term plan to address Manitoba’s nursing shortage.
“This investment today will bring us even closer to fulfilling our commitment to add 400 seats in nursing programs at post-secondary institutions across the province,” Health Minister Audrey Gordon said at a news conference at the Notre Dame campus.
The PCs have been under pressure to address the shortage that has reached a crisis level during the pandemic.
“The seats being announced today are in high demand,” said RRC president and CEO Fred Meier. “The three-year nursing program currently accepts 150 students annually, with an employment rate of over 98 per cent. After today, we’re able to say we’re accepting 180 students annually.”
Red River College had 225 nursing seats until 2019-20. It was slashed to 150 because of provincial funding cuts. Under former premier Brian Pallister, widescale public-sector cuts were made to try to balance the provincial budget. In 2018, the college learned its provincial operating grant was to be cut by $953,000.
At the time the nursing seats were cut, a college spokesperson said that adjusting program capacity is part of routine operations to support industry while operating in a fiscally responsible manner.
The college’s decision was approved by the province, even though Manitoba’s 2018 labour market forecast indicated the province was on track for 5,400 nursing vacancies by 2024.
When asked if adding 30 seats now is too little, too late, Gordon and Meier said it’s important to look to the future.
“Since our government came into office, we have been moving forward with adding seats,” Gordon said, arguing warnings of a pending nursing shortage date back to 2008 when the NDP was in power. The PCs have promised more than $19 million to create 289 nursing seats and plan to add more, she said.
“We are focused on what’s required now and into the future. Today’s support means we’re providing more opportunities for Manitobans to pursue a career in nursing to meet the demand we’re facing today,”Meier, who was appointed clerk of the executive council for the Pallister government prior to being named Red River president in 2020, wrote in an email.
Two bachelor of nursing students at the news conference said they’re not discouraged by reports of burnout and strain on the profession.
“It wasn’t a worry for me,” said Megan Day, whose mother is a nurse. Unfortunately, nurses getting burnout, not feeling supported at work and having to deal with wage disparities are issues that have existed for 30 years, she said.
“We’re looking forward to being the new face of that and hopefully making some changes,” said Day, who is co-president of the RRC nursing students association, along with Rylee Stechkewich.
Stechkewish said she isn’t discouraged by the strain of the nursing shortage on the system.
“The problem is, we need the other nurses to teach us when we come and we’re hands-on. If we don’t have them, that’s where the hesitancy is for me and that’s where my worry is.”
She remains undaunted, though.
“I just want to help people and be there during people’s worst times. I want to be the nurse at that bedside…I don’t want them to be alone,” she said.
Including this latest expansion, the Manitoba government has committed more than $30 million to establish 289 nursing seats. Gordon noted work is underway on the next phase of the plan to expand training to meet the 400-space commitment made in 2021.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.