We marked the 2023 National Nursing Week, May 8 to 14, last week while I was attending the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Convention in Montreal.

While there, I participated in a live-streamed panel discussion called Reigniting Health Care that covered the most pressing issues facing Canada’s health care system, including the staffing crisis, the emergence of privatized care, and proven strategies to help our overstretched health care system.

In addition to myself, the panelists included CFNU President Linda Silas, BCNU President Aman Grewal, UNA President Heather Smith, SUN President Tracy Zambory, NBNU President Paula Doucet, NSNU President Janet Hazelton, PEINU President Barbara Brookins, RNUNL President Yvette Coffey and ONA President Erin Ariss.

While there were sound difficulties that had to be overcome during the live stream, when it was my turn I touched on the situation in Manitoba, specifically the Stefanson government’s austerity agenda regarding our public health care system and their vow to stick by this austerity despite a provincial election coming in the fall.

Additionally, I spoke about the lack of listening to nurses on the part of government and employers and shared an example, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, which saw nine nurses resign from it earlier this year. These nurses spoke out about the issues the program was facing many times and brought solutions forward, but they were ignored, and the result is a failing program.

In a related update, local media reported last Tuesday that the manager of the SANE program, who is from Alberta and worked remotely, quit two months after being hired. The handling of this program seems to have become a political ploy for this government.

For Nursing Week, you may have seen our posts via our social media platforms on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We decided to put the spotlight on Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon and her recent comment to the press that she is the “Minister of the Art of the Possible.”

The reason for this series was to bring awareness to the public that the Minister’s health portfolio has become a three-ring circus, which is why we used circus imagery. Each day, we urged Minister Gordon to take measures that would once again make our health care system an attractive place to work. Wouldn’t that be her greatest performance yet?

For International Nurses Day on Friday, we took out a full-page ad in the Winnipeg Free Press that called on the government to quit clowning around with the health of Manitobans, because, at this point, no one’s laughing. We also handed out lawn signs over the noon hour at the Manitoba Legislature and invited four circus performers to help us bring home the message to those legislators inside. We most certainly got their attention, as several MLAs stopped to chat and take photographs.

On another note, we are now gearing up for the CFNU Biennial Convention in P.E.I. in early June and, between our members and staff, MNU will have a large contingent there.

The theme for the biennium is “Together we got this,” which will likely sound very familiar to you. Brandi Johnson, MNU’s Senior Manager of Communications and Government Relations, will be coordinating the large communications team and overseeing the onsite operations at the biennium along with two more members of our staff: Jane Chartrand and Shelby Colbert.

From our membership, we fulfilled the 75 spots assigned to MNU and had many on the wait list get in as well. There will be about 1,000 attendees at the Convention, so it will be a wonderful networking opportunity for all who are able to attend.

For those unable to attend, have no fear as I’ll share my thoughts with you in the June 12th edition of The Pulse.


In solidarity,

Darlene Jackson


Manitoba Nurses Union