WINNIPEG -- Manitoba NDP said mandatory overtime hours for nurses has created a crisis in the province – putting patients at risk. Now they are introducing a bill in hopes of putting a stop to it.

On Wednesday afternoon, NDP MLA Uzoma Asagwara introduced Bill 205, the Restricting Mandatory Overtime for Nurses Act. The bill would require the government to immediately begin reporting the vacancy rates for nurses.

“The practice of mandating nurses to work overtime has become a daily occurrence due to the Pallister government firing hundreds of nurses. It’s created a crisis of burnout and exhaustion for front line health workers and it puts patients at risk,” Asagwara said in a news release. “This bill will force the Pallister government to fill nursing vacancies and end the practice of using mandatory overtime as a staffing tool rather than a last resort.”

NDP said in a news release if passed, the bill would come into force by January 2022, giving the government time to hire and train more nurses. The bill would allow for exceptions in the case of a public health emergency.


Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said in a written statement they are proud to support the legislation, adding the mandatory overtime is a primary concern for nurses across the province.

"Mandatory overtime for nurses has been increasing in recent years due to unsustainable vacancies and increasing workload. This is unacceptable and is jeopardizing nurses' ability to provide safe patient care," Jackson said in the written statement. "This legislation is aimed at ending the use of mandatory overtime as a routine staffing tool, and provides accountability mechanisms for employers and government to ensure safe staffing levels without forced overtime."

The union said nurses at St. Boniface voluntarily reported their mandated overtime to them. In 2017, the nurses reported 328 incidents of mandated overtime. That number increased to 1,886 incidents in 2018, and there have been 977 incidents in 2019 as of Nov. 30, according to the union.

Jackson said the premier and health minister have asked for ideas to improve patient care and build a more sustainable system. Jackson said the union is trusting the Pallister government will support the legislation.

CTV News has reached out to Cameron Friesen, minister of health, seniors and active living, for comment on the NDP bill.