The North Star


Threat of privatized healthcare in Manitoba

“We need help. We need to start healing the nurses.”

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Manitoba's public healthcare system is in crisis and the provincial government is making no significant moves to intervene. North Star interviewed Bethany, a nurse who has been working in the public healthcare system for more than 20 years, about her experience working during such a crisis.

Nearly half of the seats on Manitoba's Shared Health Board of Directors are appointed to those with close connections to for-profit healthcare companies. "I believe that's the plan of the current government...They are breaking the system so they can introduce the new system and not get so much push back."

The Manitoba provincial government closed 50% of Winnipeg's emergency rooms in 2017 in an attempt to consolidate emergency services and streamline services. However, since these changes emergency rooms have seen an overwhelming rise in patients. The closed emergency rooms were transformed into urgent care centers; however, the government also closed the majority of the quick-care clinics - consolidating emergency care to only 3 hospitals in a city of nearly a million people. 

"We saw a huge increase in [patient] volume when they downsized the emergency departments...It's scary, you don't have the resources you need to do your job properly...That is why we hold a license - we have to uphold the standards and [the employers] are not giving us the opportunity to do that."

"I feel like I've been morally injured every shift... Because I'm unable to provide the care that the patient deserves, because of the volume of patients and number of staff we have. It's getting to a point where I don't even feel proud to be a nurse anymore."

"I think that they're trying to break [the public healthcare system] in order to convince people that the only way to fix this is by privatizing. It isn't going to fix it. It's going to make it worse. That's why it's breaking, because they're taking away money that is required to provide the services."

Private healthcare is often praised for low wait-times and personalized care. However, the wait-times for those who are unable to afford private healthcare increases due to resources, such as doctors and nurses, being spread between private and public healthcare systems. Private healthcare systems must make a profit to continue to provide adequate patient care whereas public healthcare is motivated solely by patient care.

"If they [privatized healthcare], the private system would accelerate quickly and the public system would decline very quickly. The specialists would move to the private system and then there's going to be a big difference in social classes; working-class, lower income and the more marginalized people in our society would become even further marginalized and it would be a tragedy."

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