WINNIPEG – Today, the Manitoba government of Premier Heather Stefanson delivered its second Throne Speech. As a province, our priority should be on delivering comprehensive patient care to all Manitobans. This is something we have not been able to do for years now under this government as the system continues to grow less and less dependable and the health care professionals fewer and fewer.

We are deeply concerned with the following statement in the Throne Speech: “Other provinces have demonstrated that a blended public/private delivery system work. We will continue to secure partnerships to ensure we explore any and all avenues to get Manitobans the help they need now.”

“MNU strongly and firmly believes in our universal, public health care system,” said MNU President Darlene Jackson. “This is not the way to go. Our government’s focus should be whole-heartedly placed on strengthening our public health care system so that it will be there for all Manitobans, no matter their economic status.”

The Stefanson government also promised a “multi-year, multi-billion dollar capital investment in our hospitals.”

MNU eagerly awaits the details of this commitment and whether it is on top of the capital investments that have already been announced.

Capital investments must go hand-in-hand with investments in human resources.

Manitoba continues to suffer a critical nursing shortage. As President Jackson stated following the provincial government’s November 10 announcement of $200-million for the health human resource action plan, this is a good first step in helping to improve the terrible conditions presently faced by Manitoba nurses. However, there is still plenty of work to do.

That’s why it is imperative that the Stefanson government make good on their promise to be “open to innovation and new ideas, especially from health care practitioners.” Our frontline nurses are experts, and they continually provide ideas on improvements.

Regarding long-term care, the Throne Speech was also short on details on how the provincial government will further improve long-term care homes. In October, the Saskatchewan Health Authority announced that it had followed through on taking over the responsibility of five private long-term care homes. Will the Manitoba government follow suit?

MNU represents more than 12,000 nurses of all designations from across Manitoba.