It appears health care workers in Winnipeg are not satisfied with the changes at city hospitals.

"Their workloads are ridiculous," said Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union.

A Winnipeg Regional Health Authority survey of staff, done between late October and early November, shows the employee satisfaction rate dropped "sharply.”

It went from 61 per cent in 2016 to 50 per cent in 2018.

The survey says the drop is "strongly influenced" by the health care plan which saw three emergency rooms close to switch to urgent care.

The NDP obtained the survey results.

"There's big concerns among those front line workers in our health care system," said NDP MLA Matt Wiebe.

Few health care workers gave positive responses to a number of other questions in the survey:

  • When asked if they felt the changes were making the organization better, only 27 per cent of workers responded favourably.
  • When asked if there were proper staffing levels to get work done, just 32 per cent answered positively.
  • When asked if they were excited by the changes, respondents gave another low response -- 33 per cent.

"We're not surprised that health care workers are not supporting these changes, that they are finding things are getting more difficult," said Jackson.

The Pallister government and the health authority say they understand the transformation can be a challenge for staff. But the RHA and the health minister say the changes are necessary.

"Under the NDP, Manitoba had an expensive health-care system that delivered increasingly poor results, including the longest emergency wait times in the country,” said Health Minister Cameron Friesen in a statement. “Increasingly, evidence is showing that emergency and urgent care wait times are consistently lower than they were under the NDP – including at Victoria General Hospital, which has seen times improve by 28 per cent despite a 59 per cent rise in patient volume since the fall of 2017."

The NDP remains critical. It says the government had the survey results early this year and that should have prompted it to halt the recent ER closures at Concordia and Seven Oaks hospitals.

"These changes have been too fast, the chaos that it's created has impacted patient care," said Wiebe.

The health authority says the major elements of the health care overhaul are complete.

“We remain committed to working with staff and management to identify ideas and solutions that maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of our health care system, for our staff and the patients we serve,” it said in a statement.