Rural nurse overtime through the roof: Data
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WINNIPEG — Manitoba nurses who work for two rural health authorities recorded more than 132,000 overtime hours in 2022.
Figures released by the Manitoba NDP show nurses in Southern Health and Interlake-Eastern worked 73,291 and 59,227 hours of overtime, respectively, during the first eight months of 2022.
The jump in overtime hours put both health authorities on track to finish the year with a 36 per cent increase in overtime use compared to 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Overtime hours for nurses in rural Manitoba are completely out of control,” Opposition health critic Uzoma Asagwara said in question period Tuesday.
The MLA pointed to cuts to nurse training seats and restructuring of health care as reasons for the increased workloads.
Asagwara said 70,000 hours is equivalent to three dozen nurses working full-time for a year, or eight years of time.
“Nurses are struggling all across our system and they need help. They need help right now to stop from burning out,” Asagwara said, asking whether the Tories believe it is appropriate for nurses to work increased overtime.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon rebutted by saying the New Democrats did not do enough when they were in government between 1999 and 2016 to ensure internationally educated nurses can be licensed to work in Manitoba.
On Wednesday, neither Southern Health nor Interlake-Eastern provided the total number of overtime hours worked by nurses in 2022. Instead, they provided monthly averages for the period from April 2022 to February 2023.
Nurses in Southern Health worked an average of 8,969 overtime hours a month in that period, up from a monthly average of 8,748 overtime hours in 2021-22.
In Interlake-Eastern, the monthly average was 7,119 overtime hours, down from 7,887 in 2021-22. The region attributed the decline in overtime to the use of agency nurses.
In recent months, the Tories have worked with nursing colleges to reduce barriers for internationally educated nurses to register to practise in the province, including issuing a compliance order to the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.
As part of a $200-million health human resources action plan, the Progressive Conservatives have promised to end mandated overtime for nurses by adding more workers and offering incentives for nurses to voluntarily pick up overtime shifts, among other initiatives.
Speaking to reporters after question period, Gordon said the action plan, announced in November, has produced measurable results when it comes to mandated overtime.
The minister said she will provide an update about reductions in mandated shifts in the near future.
“The health human resources plan is showing benefits,” Gordon said.
Nurses in Winnipeg, including at Health Sciences Centre, worked 492,102 overtime hours from January to September 2022.
In Prairie Mountain Health, which is responsible for western Manitoba, nurses worked 163,977 overtime hours between January and September 2022.
» Winnipeg Free Press