Manitoba

Job satisfaction among Winnipeg health-care workers slipping, annual survey suggests

By nearly every measure, a new survey says staff with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority are less satisfied in their work than a year earlier.

64% of workers believe staffing levels aren't sufficient, 65% aren't satisfied with senior leadership

Health care workers are increasingly unhappy with their job, a new survey suggests. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

By nearly every measure, a new survey suggests staff with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority are less satisfied in their work than a year ago.

Employee engagement among Winnipeg health-care workers in 2018 dropped across all seven job roles listed in the survey, from front-line employees to specialists, with the slip largest among senior management and executive leaders.

It also says respondents are largely unsatisfied with their pay, senior leadership and staffing levels.

The results of the WRHA employee engagement survey for 2018 were made public on Wednesday by the Manitoba New Democrats, who received a copy through a freedom of information request. 

Survey bears out complaints: Wiebe

The report was released internally in January, and since then the provincial government has proceeded with its controversial reform of Winnipeg health-care system, which included the closure of emergency rooms at Concordia and Seven Oaks.

NDP MLA Matt Wiebe said the survey is evidence of what health-care workers have been complaining about anecdotally.

"They've been saying that these changes have been too fast, that the chaos that's been created has impacted patient care and now we're seeing that this survey bore out those results," Wiebe said.

"The government had access to this information, they knew that this was the case and instead they pushed ahead with their plan even though it's creating this chaos."

The overall WRHA engagement level is pegged at 50 per cent, a decline of 11 per cent from the previous year. The fall is attributed mainly to dissatisfaction with the overhaul, the survey ruled.

More than 11,500 employees responded to the annual survey.

Nurses have rallied against changes to the province's health-care system, which they say is putting patient care at risk. (Ian Froese/CBC )

The survey suggests 64 per cent of employees aren't satisfied with staffing levels, while 65 per cent of staff do not have a favourable impression of WRHA leadership.

Seventy-three per cent of respondents disagree with the statement that Winnipeg's health authority is a better organization today than it was 12 months ago, while 67 per cent aren't excited about the changes the organization is going through and 64 per cent of workers aren't happy about the pace of change and growth in the WRHA. 

Employees who have worked longest for the WRHA report the largest decline in satisfaction. Only 45 per cent of staff with a quarter-century of employment under their belt are engaged in their work at the health authority, which is a reduction of 15 percentage points from 2017.

Change hard, but necessary: Friesen

Three-quarters of employees who worked less than six months are engaged in their work, however.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen acknowledges that change has been hard on many WRHA employees, but it is 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," he said in a prepared statement, while noting that wait times are falling.

"We remain committed to working with clinical leadership as we continue our work in transforming a health system into one both patients and staff can be proud of."

The WRHA said it is committed to working with employees through these changes, now that the majority of the consolidation plan is finished.

"Since 2017 we have been making the largest changes to our health care system in a generation," a spokesperson said by email. "Change on this scale inevitably creates challenges and disruption at times, and we are seeing the impact of this reflected in the annual employee survey."

Réal Cloutier, WRHA president and chief executive officer, has previously admitted to the growing pains that employees are facing by saying, in a letter to staff, that workers are in a "valley of despair" as they try to accept the changes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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