Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland, Red River Métis, Winnipeg, Manitoba - The Manitoba PC Government cut funds for programs dedicated to attracting and retaining nurses during the pandemic, even as doctors and nurses alike were quitting Manitoba's health system due to burnout, overwork and lack of supports.
Manitoba Health's Annual Report showed that the Physician Recruitment and Retention Program (PRRP) saw a cut of nearly a million dollars from $23.94-million in 2020/21 to $22.99-million in 2021/22. Previous years saw slight cuts of $170,000 in 2019/20, and $540,000 in 2018/19.
The PRRP provides funds to physicians to earn 'shares' based on the number of consecutive program years spent in Manitoba practice. After 5 consecutive years of service, a 'milestone' payment is made based on the shares earned during that period.
At the same time, expenditures for out-of-province physicians have increased by $4 million this year primarily due to caseload volume.
Nursing Recruitment and Retention (NRRF) Initiatives also saw similar cuts. NRRF provides grants to nurses for bilingual/French requirement positions, personal care home grants, relocation assistance, and continuing education funding, among others. That fund was cut by about $174,000, from $3.27 million in 2020/21 to $3.1 million in 2021/22.
"If you want to see someone's priorities, look at their budget - and in the middle of the pandemic, when the Premier was Health Minister, the PCs cut funds to retain and attract doctors and nurses, while sending $4-million more out of province," said Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St Boniface. "This is why our health care system is breaking down - the PCs actually cut funds to keep health workers in Manitoba."