As we mark the end of a very eventful year, I’d like to thank our members for the solidarity and activism shown over the past year.

In the lead up to the provincial election in October, we saw how your contributions – such as you talking to your family or friends about the situations in your workplaces, putting up a lawn sign or showing up to vote – made a huge difference.

The election of a new government didn’t mean things changed overnight: we know that the problems in the healthcare system worsened over the course of two terms of Conservative governments and it will take time to repair the damage. As I often tell politicians “You can’t make a nurse overnight,” and one of the top issues nationally in healthcare is the nurse staffing crisis.

What we do have now is the ears of key stakeholders at all levels of government, that’s an important achievement heading into 2024. We will not stop our efforts to improve the conditions of work for our members, because conditions of work for staff ARE conditions of care for patients.

It seems fitting to me that 2024 is a leap year; the additional date of February 29th every four years helps to align our calendars with the seasons. Leap years mean that we get back on track, which our healthcare system sorely needs. 

At the beginning of December, MNU launched Operation Collective Hope via our social media channels and asked the public to share with us the story of a nurse who has made a difference in their lives. This Operation is for our members and for every single Manitoban who touches the healthcare system, because the conditions of work are the conditions of care… and we care about a better Manitoba.

We received so many uplifting messages, including this one from a patient: “Hi, I wanted to share about one of my nurses who cared for me in a way I had never really experienced before. I have been inpatient on a psychiatric unit many times, and all the nurses are incredibly lovely. This one nurse in particular would sit with me during treatments, eat her lunch with me when I was struggling with eating alone, was excited about my accomplishments, etc. I've never felt so cared for by someone who isn't a member of my family or a friend. She made every admission a little easier because I knew that I would have a familiar face cheering me on and helping me feel a bit better!”

And as part of our goal to raise Collective Hope, MNU made a donation to Harvest Manitoba, which distributes food to more than 350 food banks and agencies in every region of the province. These thousands of donors of food and funds, thousands of volunteer hours, and thousands of advocates define us as a community.

On December 7th, I was delighted to present a cheque for $11,238.40 to Joanne Patenaude, Harvest's Senior Manager of Development, which will go a long way to helping those experiencing food insecurity. Please visit our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram to see more messages of hope.

Before I close, there are a few people that I would like to recognize as we near the end of this message:

Andrea Kwasnicki, who led the Manitoba branch of Diabetes Canada (formerly Canadian Diabetes Association), retired in early December. MNU is proud of the partnership we developed with Andrea at the helm, especially the annual Lace Up for Diabetes event, the Best Banting Gala and support of D-Camps for kids with diabetes. We’ll miss Andrea and congratulate her for everything she achieved! 

We also have two retirements here at MNU: Labour Relations Officer and our long-time workplace safety and health wizard Tom Henderson retired in October and our always popular Terry Dyck, MNU’s Accounting and IT Co-ordinator, retires today, December 22. We wish them both all the best and our gratitude for their many years of service to MNU!

And to you and your families, may this holiday season be merry and bright!