WINNIPEG -- Manitoba’s healthcare workers will now have enhanced access to personal protective equipment (PPE).

On Tuesday, Shared Health said the province has a stabilizing PPE stockpile, which means more N95 respirators will be available for staff.

Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s chief nursing officer, said that making sure healthcare and front-line workers are safe has been a top priority for the province.

“Throughout this pandemic, personal protective equipment protocols have continually been adapted based on the evidence, leading practice and local expertise to ensure that our staff remain protected,” she said.

“And as we continue to plan and prepare, our current supply of PPE has improved steadily in all categories since the height of the pandemic.”

During the pandemic, healthcare workers have been using infection prevention and control measures, as well as known science, national and international guidance, to stop the spread of the virus between patients and staff. This includes point-of-care risk assessment, hand hygiene, and disinfecting all environments and equipment.

“These processes have been and will continue to be required in the care of all patients at all times in every healthcare setting,” Siragusa said.

Shared Health noted these measures, along with necessary precautions and PPE, have proven effective: 26 healthcare workers in the province have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic started, though there has not been a confirmed case involving a healthcare worker since May 10.

There has also not been any confirmed cases among healthcare workers where the appropriate precautions were followed.


Shared Health and the Manitoba Nurses' Union (MNU) have also reached an agreement regarding increased access to PPE for nurses.

Siragusa said the policy change is the result of talks that began with the nurses' union, “but we are extending it to all healthcare workers to ensure that providers have consistency in application and protocols.”

In a statement, MNU president Darlene Jackson said nurses have been voicing their concerns about the PPE supply for months.

"Every nurse has a right to a safe workplace, and this agreement is a big step in the right direction following months of advocacy by nurses on this critical health and safety issue," she said.

Siragusa said Tuesday’s announcement should not be misinterpreted.

“COVID-19 is still a threat in Manitoba,” she said.

“We anticipate that PPE procurement will be an ongoing challenge that will require close scrutiny in the foreseeable months and while we continue to adapt the PPE guidelines based on evidence and based on circumstances, we still do encourage clinical providers to embrace these changes but also remain vigilant in their efforts to conserve PPE as much as possible.”

The MNU represents over 12,000 nurses of all designations in Manitoba.