WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government is looking for volunteers to help with the work being done at COVID-19 testing sites and healthcare-facilities.

Premier Brian Pallister made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday, saying qualified Manitobans can register to become health system COVID-19 volunteers through the HelpNextDoorMB app.

“Manitobans have a very long and proud history of stepping up, of facing challenges head on and of helping one and other, especially in times of need,” the premier said.

“And this is indeed a time of need for many Manitobans.”

The province said volunteers are needed for several tasks at testing sites, to support screening at health facilities, and to provide health system support to help frontline workers.

“We have 19 test sites and more coming and I need Manitobans to join with our frontline civil servants, others who are already helping in many, many ways in this pandemic, to have their backs, to help folks who are involved in going and getting tested in various ways,” Pallister said.

To sign up, Manitobans need to create a profile on the HelpNextDoorMB app, select a region of the province and an area of interest. The province will then automatically conduct criminal record and vulnerable persons check.

Once approved, the volunteer’s contact information will be shared with the respective health authority to follow up if they find a match.

Pallister said the reason the province is offering volunteer rather than paid positions is because most of the tasks are not highly-skilled or permanent civil service needs, but rather surge needs.

He said there is a pandemic going on, so in the interest of time, the province wants to quickly access help.

“Since the creation of HelpNextDoor, more than 7,000 Manitobans from 176 cities and communities have signed up to help someone in need and that speaks to the quality of Manitobans, their generosity,” Pallister said, explaining that HelpNextDoorMB is an online tool launched at the start of the pandemic to connect volunteers with people who need help.

“The need is still there and as we approach the winter months, and with many Manitobans doing their part and staying home, this can be a very lonely time for many, it can be an isolating time for many Manitobans, especially our seniors.”

Pallister urged Manitobans to sign up for HelpNextDoorMB or to refresh their profile if they’ve already signed up.

“This is a time where your help will be needed and it will be appreciated,” he said.

The volunteer service will launch first in the Winnipeg and Prairie Mountain Health Regions, and expansions will be considered in the coming weeks.