Nurses vote to strike across province
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This article was published 21/06/2021 (596 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As the COVID-19 pandemic takes a toll on the healthcare system across the province, Manitoba nurses have voted to strike amid what they describe as overwhelming workloads and inadequate compensation.
In a historic turnout for the Manitoba Nurses Union, nearly 12,000 of their members voted 98 percent in favour of a strike after seven months of unsuccessful negotiations with the province.
Darlene Jackson, president of MNU, said the 30 discussions between the two entities have resulted in frustration amid a nursing shortage and problems keeping new graduates in the province.
“Progress has been extremely slow and I think nurses are disappointed by that,” she told The Carillon.
Nurses represented by MNU have gone over four years without a contract and Jackson said if a deal is not struck soon the profession will continue to lose employees leaving the province in a critical spot.
“Nurses are very concerned about what’s going to happen to healthcare,” she said. “Where are we going to be in five years if we don’t deal with this nursing shortage right now?”
While nurses have voted to strike, labour disruptions are not expected to impact patient care. Jackson said MNU nurses would implement a ‘work to rule’ rotating strike model as per the Essential Services Act, meaning patient care would not be disrupted but nonessential tasks such as answering phones would not be completed.
“Nurses want to continue to take care of their patients, we don’t want to disrupt services,” Jackson said.
Premier Brian Pallister said in a June 10 press conferences he has tremendous respect for nurses and all they’ve done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but wouldn’t comment on negotiations.
Jackson said the nursing crisis in the province precedes the pandemic, noting many senior nurses left their jobs or retired when Pallister cut healthcare funding and shuttered emergency rooms across the province.
“It’s all lip service to me,” she said.
“If you truly respect nurses in this province, come to the bargaining table with some options that allow us to retain and recruit nurses in this province.”
The MNU represents over 12,000 nurses across the country, with 1,200 nurses working in the Southern Health region.