OPINION: Pallister’s Cuts to Health are Putting Newborns at Risk


Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface Dougald Lamont says a newly released letter from nurses at St. Boniface Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is proof that the Pallister government’s $146-million in cuts to health care are putting newborn babies at risk while nurses are being pushed to the brink of burnout.

Lamont said his office received a letter of concern, dated August 18, 2018 and signed by dozens of nurses who have seen an explosion in forced overtime that has left nurses “stressed,burned out, and exhausted.”

Lamont said that Pallister needs to listen to the concerns of front-line workers, but is boasting of having cut $146-million from health care instead.

“The Pallister government is treating nurses who are working in intensive care as disposable,” said Lamont. “These are professionals sending up red flags to warn they are burned out and that someone could die. Yet the response is ‘get therapy.’”

The letter says “people are working up to 16 hour shifts either voluntarily or through mandating and then returning to work with only 3 or 4 hours of sleep … we have been told that if we are unable to cope then EAP (Employee Assistance Program) is available to us.” EAP offers psychological counselling to employees having trouble at work.

The letter reads in part:

“Nurses are exhausted yet continue to come in because we are aware that there is literally no one left to be mandated to cover our next shift… We are feeling stressed, burned out, and exhausted. Because nothing has changed to address our working conditions over the last seven months, but rather has worsened, we feel as though our challenges to provide safe patient care is not a priority for SBH.”

Information supplied by the nurses in 2015 state that there were only 27 mandatory overtime shifts. In 2016 there were 88, and in 2017 there were 33. Since April 1, 2018, there were 405 voluntary overtime shifts, and 254 mandated shifts – just in the first nine months of the year. St. Boniface Hospital’s NICU is a centre of care for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Northwest Ontario.

“Healthcare professionals are trying to protect their own health and that of their patients, and the government needs to start listening and acting to put patients first.” Said Lamont.

Manitoba Liberal Caucus