Health Care “Transformation” Announcement Leaves Front-line Workers with more Questions than Answers

"With so little transparency for staff and patients, [MGEU members] feel like the government is making it up as they go along." MGEU President addresses reporters yesterday to discuss the next wave of changes coming to health care.

Jun 15, 2018

The government announced yesterday that it’s moving forward with further changes to Manitoba’s health care system — but front-line workers remain in the dark as to how these changes will actually be implemented.

“Our members — workers like the health care aides and paramedics and lab technologists who deliver health services to Manitobans day-in and day-out — are telling me that with so little transparency for staff and patients, they feel like the government is making it up as they go along. Anxiety is high as they juggle heavy workloads without knowing what their future may hold,” says MGEU President, Michelle Gawronsky.

Currently, services are funded by the Health department and organized through five Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), three provincial health organizations, and civil service facilities like Selkirk Mental Health Centre and Cadham Provincial Laboratory. Yesterday’s announcement confirmed that the following services will be transferred to Shared Health from the RHAs and Manitoba Health by April 1, 2019:

  • Health Sciences Centre;
  • EMS services currently delivered directly by RHAs (excludes municipal EMS services like Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson);
  • Medical Transportation Coordination Centre;
  • Diagnostic imaging;
  • Lab services (including the former DSM and Westman Lab); and
  • Some, as yet unspecified, food and laundry services.

Other services and organizations were identified for future, possible transfer to Shared Health, including Selkirk Mental Health Centre, Cadham Provincial Laboratory, and Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. While the government would provide no detail on how or when this would happen, officials did indicate that transfer of these additional services/organizations would not be part of the first wave of transfers to be completed by April 1, 2019.

Gawronsky says that if yesterday’s announcement made one thing clear it’s that more MGEU members will have to take part in disruptive and costly representation votes. That’s because rural MGEU Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals and dispatchers with the Medical Transport Coordination Centre (MTCC) will now share the same employer as Technical/Professional members — Shared Health — as of April 1, 2019. Because they will all be Shared Health employees, they will all be forced to participate in union representation votes being held throughout the province some time in the next year. The government has not yet said when or how these votes will take place.

Since Bill 29, The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act, was first introduced over a year ago, the MGEU and other unions have repeatedly told the government that representation votes would achieve nothing in terms of improving patient care.

“But in the end, they ignored the unions’ recommendations for how we could all avoid the expense and distraction and decided to move ahead with the votes anyway,” Gawronsky said. “MGEU will continue pressing government for the answers our members deserve at this time of so much uncertainty in the health care system.”

Members impacted by today’s announcement are encouraged to visit CareComesFirst.ca to read more about Bill 29 and the representation votes. 

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