Yesterday we were finally able to gather together for Labour Day, which before the COVID-19 pandemic was an annual event but had to put on hold for the past two years.

There was the formal ceremony at Memorial Park and then we marched along Portage Avenue to Vimy Ridge Park for a wonderful picnic.

As MNU President, I was asked to speak during the ceremony, and my remarks touched on several topics, but top of mind was the nurse staffing crisis. There was an audible gasp from the crowd when I mentioned that six years ago nurse overtime across Canada hit a million hours, a record at that time, however in Manitoba in 2021, nurse overtime was more than 992,000 hours – just in our one province!

The need for a national plan to deal with the health workforce crisis is also something I touched on, reminding those in attendance that if we do not have this national plan, we will continue to see nurses being poached and leaving smaller provinces like ours, or leaving the profession entirely.

I also called on the Stefanson government to do more for our fellow Manitobans who are trying to make ends meet on the minimum wage – a minimum wage that is one of the worst in all of Canada. Here is an excerpt of my remarks:

Manitoba nurses see the reality of poverty in our hospitals, clinics and health facilities on a daily basis.

The social determinants of health influence the health of populations. They include income and social status; social support networks; education; employment/working conditions; social environments; physical environments; personal health practices and coping skills; healthy child development; gender; and culture.

If we don’t tackle the issue of poverty, the health of our population will continue to suffer. I know you don’t want to see that; I sure don’t. My fellow union members, the fight continues and we at MNU will be right there with you.

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Speaking of governments, Canada’s Minister of Health Jean-Ives Duclos met with a group of nurses and I on August 25 to discuss the dire situation in Manitoba.

I’d like to publicly thank those nurses because they spoke to Minister Duclos from their hearts, sharing their experiences in their specific facilities, and advocating passionately on behalf of their colleagues and patients. I’d also like to thank Minister Duclos for listening intently and taking pages of notes, that to us showed an acknowledgement of our concerns and solutions.

The weeks ahead promise to be just as busy, as we continue to shine the spotlight on what our members are facing across Manitoba, so please stay tuned to our social media channels, the news and our upcoming editions of The Pulse.
In solidarity,

Darlene Jackson
Manitoba Nurses Union