Public workers rally against provincial budget cuts
Cameron MacLean, CTV Winnipeg
Published Saturday, May 6, 2017 2:44PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, May 6, 2017 6:11PM CST
Public sector workers rallied at The Forks Saturday to demand a halt to cuts to the province’s public services.
The rally included people who work in the province's health sector, child and family services, union members, and community groups.
The Manitoba government has announced several cost-cutting measures in recent months, including the closure of three emergency rooms in Winnipeg and shutting down of the Misericordia urgent care centre.
The province has also ordered regional health authorities and health agencies across the province to cut management positions by 15 per cent.
“We are seeing cuts across the province and no real investments and no real actual explanation on how these changes are going to improve patient care,” said Sandi Mowat, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union.
Mowat said she’s worried about the impact the cuts will have on patient care and safety.
“I’m worried that patients are going to be moved all over the system. People are going to be travelling all over the city trying to get health care.”
Debbie Boissonneault is president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Provincial Health Care Council. She said a lot of members are afraid they will lose their jobs.
“I’m feeling really upset with these cuts coming out, because the fact remains that we’ve never really been told why they needed to be cut,” she said.
Provincial health officials have said the changes to Manitoba’s health system will shorten wait times by diverting less urgent matters away from the remaining emergency rooms, as well as consolidate resources to improve services and cut down on travel.
A consultant report ordered by the previous NDP government found that Winnipeg had more emergency rooms than some larger Canadian cities, and that the system was inefficient and led to unnecessarily long wait times.
The changes will see emergency rooms at Seven Oaks Hospital and Victoria Hospital converted to urgent care centres, while the emergency room at Concordia Hospital will close entirely.
The remaining emergency rooms at Health Sciences Centre, Grace Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital will get more surgical beds and expanded mental health services.
The president of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said that non-management staff who want to work in the health region will have jobs available.
- With files from The Canadian Press