Nurse recruitment campaign called demeaning cost province $37K, documents show

A controversial campaign to recruit nurses in Manitoba cost the province more than $37,000, according to documents obtained by the NDP.

Ad campaign showing female nurse getting a facial was 'a total waste': Health Minister Cameron Friesen

The Manitoba Nurses Union says nurses feel insulted by a series of tweets from the provincial government intended to recruit people into the profession. (@MBgov/Twitter)

A controversial campaign to recruit nurses in Manitoba cost the province more than $37,000, according to documents obtained by the NDP.

The documents, obtained through an access to information request and shared with CBC News, show costing for the March campaign, which the president of the Manitoba Nurses Union called demeaning to women and nurses.

The campaign included a series of tweets from the province's account, with images that had been Photoshopped to show people in scrubs — primarily women — getting facials, doing yoga and other leisurely activities.

"Join Manitoba's nurses. Expand your career, reach your potential and have time left to explore what Manitoba has to offer," the tweets said.

At the time, Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said the tone-deafness of the tweets was exacerbated by the heavy workload on Manitoba nurses. The province experiencing a nursing shortage, and nurses are often working double shifts without breaks, she said.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen issued a tweet in March saying he'd ordered the earlier tweets deleted, and would pursue internal discussions about "next steps."

On Wednesday, Friesen said the campaign was a "total waste."

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says he ordered the tweets be deleted. (@MBgov/Twitter)

"The purpose of the ad was to actually attract nurses to the profession," Friesen said. "We know that it failed spectacularly in that attempt, but we do need to be able to continue to cast out for nurses in our system."

The documents obtained by NDP show the campaign campaign cost $37,514 out of a total budget of $50,000.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said provincial recruitment efforts targeted at nurses should start by honouring and respecting them.

And they should avoid Photoshop, he added.

"What [the government] should've done is just show nurses in their real work environment," he said. "Show the important work that nurses do at the bedside, caring for patients in Manitoba."

A government spokesperson told CBC News in March the images were part of a campaign intended to "highlight the quality of life in our province."


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