EDITORIAL: New hires numbers paint partial picture
Basic math and logic seems to have eluded Health Minister Audrey Gordon when she made a triumphant announcement on May 4.
A provincial press release celebrated 900 new hires, marking what they said was “significant progress” toward the goal of adding 2,000 more health-care providers to Manitoba.
“The Manitoba government is pleased to announce substantial hiring increases across health-care provider groups including health-care aides, allied-health providers, nurses and physicians, and we know there is more work to do,” she said.
It appeared to be good news indeed, and those who heard the news had one natural question.
How many health-care providers in that same timeframe, (November 2022 to March 2023) left, either due to retirement, moving to other provinces, or moving to new jobs within Manitoba?
That number appears to be hard to find.
When rightly questioned by media, since the hiring numbers are irrelevant without the accompanying numbers of those who left, the province had this response to the Winnipeg Free Press.
“As the province does not have a centralized HR data gathering mechanism, it currently gathers vacancy data from each service delivery organization. Detailed vacancy data per provider group is not readily available. Dedicated efforts are underway to ensure a consolidated, standardized process for HRR data,” they said in a statement.
But opposition politicians and health care worker unions were rightly critical of that response.
The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals, which held an information picket outside Bethesda Regional Health Centre last week to protest a lack of a new contract since 2017, called the minister on this issue.
“The Minister is being incredibly misleading by highlighting certain numbers to say they are doing something right and that the staffing crisis is being repaired,” MAHCP president Jason Linklater said in a press release the following day. “This is clearly not the case and in fact it continues to deteriorate.”
Linklater knows this because they have access to the numbers for allied health professionals.
In the same timeframe referenced by Gordon, 100 new people were hired.
However, in that same time, 151 employees left.
That’s a net loss of 51 employees.
There’s really only two possible reasons for this misstep by the provincial government.
Only incompetence or dishonesty can be to blame.
The first thing any intelligent person would have done in Gordon’s position when handed those numbers, would be to ask for the rest of the data to see what the net gain or loss in positions was.
It’s clear that incomplete data can’t be used effectively to come to any conclusion.
The numbers were not even compared to similar time periods in previous years, to at least show the public if hiring is indeed on the rise.
It would take a great deal of incompetence to grab those numbers and feel that they should be presented to Manitobans in a way that shapes it as some kind of victory.
One struggles to think there would be enough incompetence at that level for that to happen by accident.
But that leaves dishonesty.
If those in power are indeed competent that means they released those numbers intentionally, knowing they don’t prove anything, but attempting to fool Manitobans into believing they do.
Telling Manitobans, they are achieving success when in the best case scenario, they simply don’t know and in the worst case, they are getting further behind is shameful.
It’s an election tactic that’s been used before by many parties, but simply put, it’s dishonest.
Even the answer they gave as to why they simply didn’t have those numbers handy was weak at best.
If the new hiring numbers are so readily available, surely the job vacancy numbers, which would be recorded in the same HR office somewhere in the bureaucracy would be available.
If they can find out how many were hired, they can find out how many quit.
To allege that task is simply too difficult once again reflects incompetence or dishonesty.
Gordon even went on to insult Manitobans in response to the Winnipeg Free Press, in which she seemed to suggest only journalists are interested in those numbers.
“Our commitment was to add… 2,000 more health professionals. We are providing the public with information on our achievements towards that goal, which is nearly 900 additional health professionals…. That is what I believe the public wants to know.”
How stupid does she think the public is?
Manitobans deserve to know if progress is being made.
For Gordon to suggest otherwise is terribly insulting to all those who pay their taxes and are worried about health care.
A column written by Tom Brodbeck in the Winnipeg Free Press shared some new data provided by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. That showed that between 2016 and 2022, the number of nurses working under the WHRA declined from 8,000 to 7,722 for a net loss of 292.
During that time, Winnipeg’s population grew by over 70,000.
Manitobans deserve to know the truth, whether or not it makes government look good.
They deserve neither incompetence nor dishonesty.