Health: NDP sound alarm over information request about private nurses

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A request for information made by Shared Health asking private nursing agencies to provide information on how the Manitoba government can reduce the dependency on service providers is not sitting well with the Official Opposition.

NDP leader Wab Kinew. © Provided by Winnipeg Sun NDP leader Wab Kinew.

“This RFI is seeking to better understand agency service providers as we look at ways to reduce the reliance on nursing agencies and ensure there is standardization in the various agency agreements signed by health system employers across the province,” a Shared Health spokesperson said in a statement.

The Manitoba NDP made the request for information (RFI), which was posted on June 23, public on Tuesday.

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NDP leader Wab Kinew says the province is leaning into privatized health care with this RFI.

“It’s more expensive and worse for patients,” Kinew said in a release. “The NDP built public health care and we’ll defend it.”

The deadline for submissions for the RFI was on last Tuesday.

Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said agency nurses were never meant to be a permanent solution.

“They were meant to be a temporary measure to ensure patient care was never compromised,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, this government relaxed into a fallback plan resulting in excessive use. We now live in a world where agency use has become the norm in our health-care system leaving patients without continuity of care, staff without cohesive collaboration and the public fooled into thinking the frontline is okay. It is definitely not okay, and we are calling not only for information but for action.”

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The NDP claims the province has spent $65 million on private agency nurses and that they cost the government $65/hour compared to public nurses, who are paid up to $47/hour.

NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara says that nurses and health care aides say they are leaving their jobs because the government is not respecting them.

“It takes years, and often strike mandates, to get things like fair wages, a contract, or a better work-life balance,” Asagwara said. “Fixing the public health care system starts with treating workers fairly.”

Shared Health says that along with other Manitoban health system employers, they are committed to reducing the province’s reliance on agency nurses. A spokesperson outlined the introduction of undergraduate nursing employees into the workforce, implementation of a mentorship program and a provincial float pool and financial incentives to encourage nurses to work full time as ways to address staffing challenges.

Province asks Manitoba private nursing agencies for information on available workers .
A request for information recently posted by Shared Health asked private nursing agencies in Manitoba to provide details on how they could help the province's health-care system — a move the NDP says proves the government's intent to move further toward privatization.The NDP made the request for information document, which is dated June 23, public on Tuesday.

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