Singh tells Winnipeg health workers he feels their pain
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Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh got an earful from Winnipeg health workers Tuesday, who told him they are overworked and understaffed, and feel unsafe on the job.
Half a dozen workers, including nurses, painted a desperate picture of Manitoba’s health system for Singh as he made a stop in Winnipeg.
“You can’t even park your car safely at HSC. You can’t walk from your work environment to your vehicle often, even if you get done your shift and you get to go home,” said Lana Penner, president of Manitoba Nurses Union Local 10.
She said there had been multiple assaults at the hospital in just the past week.
She and others are critical of recent health-care announcements made by the Manitoba government, including a recruitment program that has been touted as potentially bringing more than 100 nurses from the Philippines to Manitoba this summer.
“Two-hundred people in the Philippines isn’t going to fix this problem, and certainly 25 seats in a nursing class isn’t going to fix this problem,” she said.
One worker talked about having to cope with a 50 per cent increase in patients; another explained she had left her job in emergency care due to chronic understaffing.
Penner said the lack of resources takes its toll.
“It’s going home at the end of every shift, sick, because you didn’t get done everything you needed to get done,” she said.
“It’s crying on your way to work because you know you’re not going be able to provide the care that you’ve been trained (to give). It’s about losing it in the middle of your shift because you’ve had to say no, or you haven’t gotten to that patient in time, or you haven’t provided that additional support to their family.”
For his part, Singh used the event at Riverview Community Centre to slam the agreement in principle it reached with Manitoba — for $6.7 billion over 10 years — to improve wait times and access to services.
It’s part of a $196.1-billion national program.
Singh has tabled a motion in the House of Commons that calls on MPs to “express disappointment that the prime minister has promoted Ontario’s for-profit health plans as “innovation” and ensure that the newly announced health care funding not be used for the for-profit private system.”
Singh said Tuesday Ottawa’s funding is not directed toward a solution to the myriad problems that plague the health care system.
“The problem that we’re up against is a health-care worker shortage. The prime minister made a big deal about having strings attached, or conditions, which we supported. But when it comes down to it, we don’t really see those conditions. We certainly don’t see those conditions or those strings attached, being in any way linked to the actual solving of the problem.”
Premier Heather Stefanson has said details of the deal related to accountability still must be hammered out, and would be based on parameters set by the federal government.
Singh said the Manitoba NDP is concerned the Tory government will quickly funnel that money into private health.
“I am deeply concerned about the accountability of our public funds going to provinces, particularly where those provinces have openly said they’re going to use it for for-profit clinics,” he said.
“I don’t want a cent of people’s hard-earned public money going to line the pockets of a rich CEO who’s making money off of people’s pain.”
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.