Many of you will have seen the media coverage yesterday regarding the WRHA’s plan regarding the reorganization/deletions of Nurses within the system. The President of the Manitoba Nurses Union is on record as stating that they were unaware of yesterday’s media conference until that very morning.
I’d like MAHCP members to know that we have had three meetings directly with the WRHA and the Provincial Health Labour Relations Services so far. During those meetings, it was my expectation that certain specifics would be shared with us to ensure that each member’s rights were being protected. The WRHA continues to add small pieces of information each time we meet, however, we still do not have the full details regarding the overall impact on the members who provide health care here in Winnipeg.
It is incredibly difficult and frankly irresponsible for us to agree to any processes related to the Healing the Health System or the Manage to Budget initiatives. The most glaring issue that we have is that we still do not have any information on the impacts of these changes at Health Sciences Centre.
Healing the Health System/Manage to Budget
I feel that a refresher on the two separate but related initiatives might help members understand this update:
The Healing the Health System is the WRHA’s label for the plan to close Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centres and consolidate emergency and related services at St. Boniface, Health Sciences Centre, and Grace Hospital. This plan alone was sure to cause significant disruption to the services our members provide at all WRHA facilities. MAHCP was quite ready to meet with the employer to represent the rights of our members, because this plan will affect so many of the professionals who provide many different services.
On July 11, the Manage to Budget initiative was introduced. This is the plan that is seeing Physiotherapy, some Occupational Therapy, Adult Audiology outpatient services being completely deleted. Recreation Therapy is also being severely cut in areas such as Mental Health. We continue to learn of other deletions related to programs such as the Mature Women’s Clinic and the Hospital Home Team.
For some of these services, the WRHA and Government of Manitoba have stated that these are available in the private sector, so there isn’t really a reduction of health care to Manitobans. Of course, we know intuitively that this is not even remotely true. So many members who have contacted me since these announcements began have stated repeatedly that the private providers simply do not have the knowledge, experience or equipment to care for Manitobans like they can in a hospital setting. I have been quoted in the media as opposing these changes on the basis that people will not be able to afford this private care, even if it was equivalent to hospital based care. Those comments continue to fall on deaf ears in terms of those making these decisions.
For our members employed by Diagnostic Services Manitoba, we have been provided absolutely no information on any labour adjustment plans related to any of these changes. We are seeking a meeting with DSM in the very near future in order to discuss what plans exist there for our members.
That is why it is so important for MAHCP members to participate in the many rallies held at various sites around the province since these announcements began. MAHCP will be holding events and awareness campaigns as we get into the early fall months, so please, participate as much as you can. We need to continue to stand up and tell the decision makers that excellent care of Manitobans is what we need to protect. These cuts accomplish the exact opposite.
Last week, the limited information we have was shared and discussed with our entire Labour Relations Staff and the Executive Council. It is the consensus that our first priority will be to work with those members who will be directly affected by any position deletions. In other words, we know that some members will be receiving notice that their position is being deleted. We wish to ensure that those members are provided every opportunity to find meaningful employment within the system.
We know that some positions, or more accurately, the funding for those positions, will be moved to different facilities to support consolidation. We cannot guarantee that the EFTs will be the same at the receiving facility. It is also important to note that we are also working to protect members currently employed at receiving facilities. In other words, bumping will not occur between facilities, but, in some cases, it may be necessary within facilities. This way, we can ensure that the seniority rights of members are respected across the system.
Promises not kept
Despite our opposition to these decisions and the way they are being communicated, MAHCP continues to work every day to ensure that whatever process that occurs for these changes to happen is as fair as possible to all members.
An unfortunate reality emerging from these changes is that it is clear that there will be job losses. The early promises from both the government and the WRHA that everyone who wants a job will have a job in the system is proving to have never been true.
As we continue to get more information from the WRHA over the next couple of weeks, we will have a better understanding of the scope of these cuts. Until we know the depth of the cuts and changes at Health Sciences Centre, it remains impossible for us to determine how many and where and if opportunities may exist for those members to find work from anywhere within the WRHA.
As always, we will share more information as we receive it. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact your provincial MLA and let her or him know that these decisions are not going to lead to better health care for Manitobans.