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This article was published 12/11/2021 (196 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For the past five years, the Progressive Conservative government has continually put money ahead of Manitobans.
The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA), which represents more than 1,000 staff, is currently striking as a result of PC government not allowing fair and free bargaining. This is affecting the recruitment and retention of skilled staff, and directly affecting students’ learning, including that of future health-care professionals.
When professors and students — those wanting to build great lives in Manitoba —leave, bypass, or cannot find employment in our province, we all suffer from the government’s interference and cuts.
Nursing students at the U of M are worried they may not be able to graduate due to the PC government meddling in contract negotiations. About 100 fourth-year nursing students are set to graduate in the spring but their community and clinical placements are now on hold, potentially keeping them from graduating.
This is on top of fact that the government cut 75 seats fromothe registered nursing program at Red River College prior to the pandemic.
In an attempt to put a Band-Aid on a deep wound that is the severe nursing shortage in Manitoba, the PC government announced plans to add 400 new nursing education seats across the province but its inadequate post-secondary funding makes that impossible.
Nursing vacancies have reached unprecedented levels in Manitoba, with 2,000 vacancies province-wide. These nursing shortages have had undeniable repercussions on the quality of care Manitobans receive. The PC government closed emergency rooms, cut intensive care capacity, fired hundreds of nurses, froze nurses’ wages and has treated nurses and healthcare workers with nothing short of disrespect.
The result? A health-care staffing crisis that was compounded by the pandemic and one in which not a single one of the three PC ministers of health appointed during the pandemic have taken any meaningful steps to address.
The strike affects many folks of Union Station and particularly those who live within limited means and face multiple barriers to accessing health care.
We know that Brian Pallister constantly interfered with the bargaining process during the last UMFA strike in 2016, and we can only hope Premier Stefanson will see the error in those ways.
She must immediately end Pallister’s interference at the U of M to ensure a fair and free bargaining process so students can finish their education and we can recruit and retain the people needed for quality healthcare in Manitoba.
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Union Station constituency report
Uzoma Asagwara is the NDP MLA for Union Station.