WINNIPEG -- The union for Manitoba nurses says its concerns over conditions at the province’s largest hospital have grown to the point that it is considering putting Health Sciences Centre on a “grey-list,” discouraging nurses from taking jobs at the facility.

Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said grey-listing generally happens at the request of their members.

“And it’s basically a situation where the employer is not providing enough support for nurses to provide safe, quality patient care,” she said. “Where they may not be in a position where they’re meeting their standards of practice, and or where they’re violating our collective agreement continuously.”

Jackson said the union local for nurses at Health Sciences Centre made the request in this case. She said their concerns aren’t new.

“These are concerns that nurses have been bringing forward probably for 18 months, two years, since consolidation started.”

Jackson said the proper groundwork wasn’t laid before the overhaul of Manitoba’s health care system began under the Pallister government, and nurses having been expressing concerns about being unable to manage workload ever since.

“Their concerns have been falling on deaf ears,” Jackson said.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about providing safe quality patient care for the patients who are presenting there.”

Jackson said the largest issue nurses are concerned with is insufficient staffing, saying not only is there not enough nurses, but more physicians, allied health care providers and support staff are also needed.

She said HSC sees the “sickest of the sick” and trauma patients who have greater needs than others.

“We need all hands on deck at that facility, and we just feel like we’re not in that position.”

Jackson said she is only aware of one incident of grey-listing in Manitoba’s history, but said it took place before she was involved with the union, at a facility outside city limits.

She also emphasized that nurses would much rather work with leadership to improve conditions, noting meetings are ongoing.

“Our goal is to solve it, grey-listing is our last -- I guess the last step in the process.”

In a statement, Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said, in part, “We have been working diligently to stabilize the health-care system,” following changes he said were overdue in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

“As part of our efforts, system leaders are collaborating with the MNU and front-line nurses to implement measures designed to further improve patient care and enhance the safety of our facilities — including HSC,” said the statement.

“Results of these ongoing efforts include enhanced security measures at HSC, the continued education and recruitment of more critical care and emergency nurses and the opening of a low acuity area at HSC’s emergency department. We are continuing to collaborate with the MNU to streamline the hiring process, which will shorten the process of filling open nursing positions at HSC and throughout the province. Other initiatives are also underway or planned to shorten the hiring process.”

Friesen noted he met with union leadership shortly before Christmas and will continue to meet to address issues of concern.

A spokesperson for Shared Health also provided CTV News with a statement committing to working with nurses and the union, noting the critical role nurses play in health care.

“Over the past two years, our health system has experienced unprecedented change designed to improve the quality, consistency and efficiency of the care we provide. Our nursing staff have remained committed to delivering excellent care each and every day,” said the statement, which said safety of staff and patients is a top priority at HSC and it shares concerns over longstanding “challenges raised with us by nursing staff.”

“We remain committed to ongoing discussions with nurses from various practice settings – and their union in the months ahead,” the statement said.