One of two candidates vying for the leadership of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative party has pledged to repair the broken relationship with nurses, the Manitoba Nurses Union said.
The winner of the PC leadership contest on Oct. 30 will become the next premier, and set the tone for the province, especially when it comes to the health care system, the union said in a release Thursday.
They say the staffing shortage is dire because not enough nurses are entering the system to meet demand. As of the end of July, there were 1,393 vacant nursing positions in the Winnipeg Health Region and recent information from the rural health authorities estimate that there are more than 2,200 vacant nursing positions across the province.
On Sept. 16, the union sent each PC leadership candidate, Heather Stefanson and Shelly Glover, a pledge for them to sign, as a statement of their good faith intention to resolve the nurse staffing crisis.
The pledge includes an acknowledgement there's a critical nursing shortage, "a commitment to repair the broken relationship between the provincial government and nurses, and a commitment to share data in a more open, transparent manner so that all Manitobans can see clearly the nursing situation in all regions of the province."
PC leadership candidate and former health minister
Stefanson, a former health minister, signed the pledge and returned it to the union. Glover, a former police officer and federal Conservative cabinet minister, called MNU president Darlene Jackson last weekend, the union said. Glover said she wants to work with the union, "however, we did not receive a signed pledge," its news release said.
On Thursday, Glover's campaign issued a statement explaining why she didn't sign it.
"Since I was not in government, I don’t think it is appropriate for me to apologize on behalf of others," it said. "Actions speak greater than words. I have had encouraging discussions with Darlene Jackson and have committed to resolving the nurses' union contract. I look forward to building a stronger more collaborative relationship with nurses and the MNU."
The nurses aren't the only union members Stefanson is wooing. She's reportedly seeking endorsement from the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg.