Manitoba health minister says she hasn’t read report that says many health-care staff have considered quitting

Health Minister Audrey Gordon says her department wasn’t aware of a year-old report making more than 30 recommendations to improve the well-being of the province’s health-care workers — and she herself has yet to read it.

The report called for numerous actions after finding more health-care workers in Manitoba are dealing with burnout and thinking of changing jobs than elsewhere in Canada.

Gordon said the report, prepared by consulting firm Deloitte, wasn’t commissioned by the provincial government, but rather Shared Health, the provincial organization which co-ordinates health-care service delivery and planning across Manitoba.

After learning about the report’s existence this week, Gordon said she wants “to respect the writers of that report,” which is a draft copy, and give them the “opportunity to finalize it and to make it available to government in a final form.”

“In my time in government I can tell you I wrote a lot of draft reports, and it wasn’t until maybe iteration No. 20 that it was finalized,” Gordon said.

It appears no final report will ever be supplied, however. The report’s authors state that, as of July 2022, there are no plans to continue the assessment. An explanation is not provided. 

The report in question is described as confidential and wasn’t made public, until the NDP and Liberals both obtained a copy and brought it up in question period on Monday. 

More than half of staff have thought of quitting

The document says two-thirds of health-care staff are experiencing burnout, while more than half of them have seriously thought about looking for a new job in the past year — a number that jumps to 67 per cent when looking at nurses alone.

The authors suggest these issues are driven by factors mostly out of individual employees’ control, such as their workload, shifts and management, and many of these concerns existed before the pandemic. 

If this situation doesn’t change, it poses risk to patients and the overall health-care system, the report says, adding it’s unlikely to improve without targeted interventions. 

NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara said Gordon’s explanation she doesn’t want to read a draft report before it’s finalized doesn’t hold weight. 

“I think that that is a very terrible excuse. It is the minister’s responsibility to lead health care in our province in a way that is informed, that listens to the front-line expertise of health-care workers,” Asagwara said.

“The minister has had several days to this point to do what she should have done, which is make sure that that report is in her hands and she’s read it in its entirety.”

NDP MLA Uzoma Asagwara sits in front of a backdrop banner with the NDP logo on it.
NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara says the health minister’s rationale that she’s waiting to read the final report is a ‘terrible excuse.’ (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Asagwara said it should have been a top priority of Gordon to read the report and act accordingly. 

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont once again accused the province of sitting on a damaging report and failing to address the concerns. 

The report lays out a number of recommendations, including the development of a system-wide strategy to support employees’ well-being, launching a dialogue around work boundaries, reviewing staff ratios and compensation levels and establishing plans to reduce non-essential tasks, among other things. 

It says some actions can be completed within three months, but other measures would take longer than a year to implement. 

Gordon, however, said the PC government is aware of the concerns of health-care staff and is working to address them through its $200 million plan to retain, train and recruit more workers, which includes financial incentives for workers.

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