WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government will spend $200 million and add an estimated 2,000 front-line professionals to ease the strain on the health-care system.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson and Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced the “health human resource action plan” on Thursday.
“Manitobans, and all Canadians, expect their leaders to come together to solve issues that matter most to them. We are listening and we are taking action,” said Stefanson.
“While all jurisdictions are facing significant human health resources challenges, and while we continue to wait for the federal government to come to the table to increase its share of health funding, we are taking the necessary action here in Manitoba to strengthen our health system now and well into the future.”
Stefanson says the plan includes pay incentives for weekend shifts and incentives for nurses who work full-time.
The government is also going to cover licensing fees for two years for all licensed health-care professionals, and offer money to help medical clinics and doctors’ offices expand their hours.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon says details of the payment amounts still have to be worked out.
She says the government aims to eliminate things such as mandatory overtime that nurses have faced.
The group Doctors Manitoba said it is encouraged by the plan, which it says will begin to address concerns about burnout that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Manitobans are facing unreasonably long wait times in emergency rooms and for surgeries and diagnostic tests,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, president of Doctors Manitoba, which represents some 4,000 physicians, residents and medical students.
“Rural and northern hospitals are facing frequent closures and making it hard to know when and where to access care. The causes of these problems are complicated, but often they all come back to one single common issue, and that is shortages and burnout among our health care workers.”
The Manitoba Nurses Union said the money is a start.
“This announcement is a good first step in helping to improve the terrible conditions for Manitoba nurses at present. However, there is still plenty of work to do,” union president Darlene Jackson said in a written statement.
— With files from The Canadian Press