Manitoba nurses feel concerns aren't being heard, they're being stretched thin, survey findings suggest
'They feel like they aren't being listened to,' says Dr. Cheryl Cusack, ARNM executive director
The professional association that represents all Manitoba nurses is calling on the provincial government to provide nurses with resources and include them in health-care decisions, following a survey that suggests nurses feel their concerns aren't being heard and they're being overstretched.
The Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba surveyed 1,192 nurses about their experiences working throughout the pandemic. Many of the respondents said they feel disconnected from decision makers, that their skills aren't valued and a toll has been taken on their own health, according to a news release issued by the association.
"They feel like they aren't being listened to," Dr. Cheryl Cusack, ARNM executive director, told CBC News.
"They're really feeling like they're trying to get the message across about the concerns for clients and patients, as well as themselves, and that message isn't being valued."
This survey, conducted by the association from Nov. 9 to Dec. 2, 2020, was sent to different types of nurses, in various positions, in urban, rural and remote Manitoba communities. It asked nurses to rank how much they agree with the Manitoba government's pandemic response on a scale from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree," the release said.
Participants could also add whatever comments they wished in open text boxes, it added.
Roughly 11.8 per cent of ARNM members responded to the survey, the release said.
Survey findings suggest that nurses believe the Manitoba government did not prepare well enough for the second wave of the pandemic. Patients cannot receive the level of care they need because of staffing shortages, mandated overtime, increased patient needs and nurses being redeployed in areas of the health-care system that is outside their expertise, the news release said.
Participants also worried about impacts to their families, their own mental and physical health, and some are considering leaving the profession, the release added.
"Despite the fact that the second wave was highly predictable, the government failed to have a long-term pandemic plan for the people of Manitoba, which has hurt the people of Manitoba," said Jennifer Dunsford, ARNM president, in the release.
"Given our experience with the first wave, the government should have taken appropriate steps to increase contact tracing capacity, hire more staff and provide health-care workers with the resources they need in order to protect Manitobans and save lives."
CBC News requested comment from Health Minister Heather Stefanson about the accusations, but her department did not immediately respond.
CBC News also reached out to Shared Health, the organization in charge of health-care delivery in Manitoba, but they deferred to the provincial government.
With files from Faith Fundal