Nurses and students feel the pressure of an unstable environment

By Jonathan Lie

The provincial government is damaging Manitoba’s already overloaded healthcare system by limiting its budget, according to some nurses and students.

Hailey West, RRC nursing program grad, said those who were in it for the money are now gone.

West and her colleagues have demonstrated their dedication to healthcare throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She said the surge of COVID-19 cases this fall and the increasingly difficult working conditions put them to the test.

The provincial government’s slow reaction to rising cases and the lack of funding makes nurses feel unrecognized, said West.

“I personally do feel as though his budget cuts have affected the current situation, otherwise they wouldn’t be asking for students to screen people for COVID-19,” said Kyla Cooke, current RRC nursing student.

Paramedicine – Primary Care Paramedic students get hands-on experience from instructor Erik McCall (left) at NDC./JAMES DOROSHUK

“Adequate staffing is by far and above cheaper than paying myself… There are days when I am making up to $100 an hour because I’m into overtime, mandated, and with shift premiums,” said H.A., an anonymous nurse working at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg. 

The cuts are costing more than they’re saving, said H.A., who feels the best action to improve patient care is to hire additional nurses.

“Someone [an additional nurse] is paid half as much, is a third as tired, and a tenth as likely to make a mistake due to being overworked,” said H.A.

West, Cooke, and H.A. all said provincial restrictions have been too lenient for too long.

“It was very alarming to people when we had 80 positive cases in one day…The numbers now have increased immensely up to 470 positive cases in Manitoba in one day,” said Cooke. “People were not following the regulations.”

“I had to watch a patient’s wife bawling onto her husband’s dying body, and I couldn’t give her the hug and human touch she so badly needed because of infection control,” said H.A.

H.A. said that our new normal is people dying needless, lonely deaths.