"The data included in this CIHI (Canadian Institute for Health Information) report could be misunderstood. This CIHI data includes 535 nurses who did not indicate where they are working within the province. ... These nurses are indeed working, but for employers (other) than the regional health authority, including nursing agencies, private doctors’ offices, and surgery clinics. To be clear, there are more nurses working today than one year ago."
— Health Minister Cameron Friesen, as reported by the CBC
The number of nurses employed in Manitoba has been on a steep decline during recent months, the Manitoba Nurses Union misinformed us last week, taking numbers out of context.
Between 2017 and 2018, the number of nurses employed in the province declined by 510 to 16,065, they reported in a media release. Another data set they cited recorded a net loss of 557 nurses during this same timeframe.
Hypocritically stating that nurses "are tired of being treated as pawns on a chess board," Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson insisted it was "disturbing to see that there are fewer nurses employed in Manitoba."
The discrepancy in numbers is a result of a change in how data is tracked. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information — the organization that compiled this data — between 2017 and 2018, "registered nurses in Manitoba did not provide information for employment status, accounting for the drop in the number of registered nurses in the workforce from 12,449 in 2017 to 11,844 in 2018."
They also noted that there was net gain of 144 in the supply of regulated nurses in Manitoba during this timeframe.
According to the institute, the total number of registered nurses during this timeframe in Prairie Mountain Health was actually pretty static. There were 2,357 registered nurses working in Manitoba in 2017, and 2,264 employed in 2018. Although this represents a decrease of 93, the five-year average was 2,266. As such, last year’s total number of nurses — two fewer than this average —shouldn’t be too great a shock to the union. At the very least, it shouldn’t be seen as "disturbing" in comparison.
Further, considering the ebbs and flows that come with any industry, it was unfair of the union to compare a singular year against another.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority shared a similar story, noting that the numbers shared by the union did not reflect what was happening in their region.
It’s difficult to say whether the Manitoba Nurses Union was deliberate in misleading the public or if they simply jumped on convenient numbers too quickly. Either way, it serves as a pretty big black eye for an organization so dependent on the public’s support.
But their actions aren’t too surprising. Slanting facts in one’s favour is pretty standard among advocacy and partisan organizations.
During the weekend, an online video went viral of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being "snubbed" by Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. At least, that’s how the initial out-of-context footage would have it appear. Later videos, with the full context included, reveals a much less awkward encounter — one less convenient for political opponents to latch onto as evidence of Trudeau’s incompetence.
You’re being lied to on a regular basis, pushed and guided in whatever direction one deems beneficial to their cause. It takes a great deal of fact-checking, such as what we regularly strive to do at The Brandon Sun, to cut through the fat and dig out the truth.
Given that a recent poll found 90 per cent of Canadians fall for fake news, it’ll be an uphill battle, but we’ll get there with some effort.
With two elections coming up later this year, we must remain more vigilant than ever.