Health care "transformation" announcement leaves more questions

"With so little transparency for staff and patients, [MGEU members] feel like the government is making it up as they go along." — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President

Winnipeg (19 June 2018) — The Manitoba government announced on June 14 that it’s moving forward with further changes to Manitoba’s health care system — but frontline workers remain in the dark as to how these changes will actually be implemented.

Lack of timeline and details regarding transfer of health care services and jobs

“Our members — workers like the health care aides and paramedics and lab technologists who deliver health services to Manitobans day-in and day-out — are telling me that with so little transparency for staff and patients, they feel like the government is making it up as they go along. Anxiety is high as they juggle heavy workloads without knowing what their future may hold,” says Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE).

Currently, services are funded by the Health department and organized through 5 Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), 3 provincial health organizations, and civil service facilities like Selkirk Mental Health Centre and Cadham Provincial Laboratory. The announcement confirmed that the following services will be transferred to Shared Health from the RHAs and Manitoba Health by April 1, 2019:

  • Health Sciences Centre
  • EMS services currently delivered directly by RHAs (excludes municipal EMS services like Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson)
  • Medical Transportation Coordination Centre
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Lab services (including the former DSM and Westman Lab)
  • Some, as yet unspecified, food and laundry services.

Other services and organizations were identified for future, possible transfer to Shared Health, including: Selkirk Mental Health Centre, Cadham Provincial Laboratory, and Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. While the government would not provide details or a timeline, officials did indicate that the transfer of these additional services/organizations would not be part of the first wave of transfers to be completed by April 1, 2019.

Costly representation votes, as government ignores unions' solutions to health care issues

Gawronsky says that the announcement made one thing clear: more MGEU/NUPGE members will have to take part in disruptive and costly representation votes. That’s because rural MGEU Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals and dispatchers with the Medical Transport Coordination Centre (MTCC) will now share the same employer as Technical/Professional members — Shared Health — as of April 1, 2019. They will become Shared Health employees, and will be forced to participate in union representation votes being held throughout the province some time in the next year. There is no timeline for these votes. 

Since Bill 29, the Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act, was first introduced over a year ago, the MGEU/NUPGE and other unions have repeatedly told the government that representation votes would achieve nothing in terms of improving patient care.

“But in the end, they ignored the unions’ recommendations for how we could all avoid the expense and distraction and decided to move ahead with the votes anyway,” Gawronsky said. “MGEU/NUPGE will continue pressing government for the answers our members deserve at this time of so much uncertainty in the health care system.”

Members impacted by this announcement are encouraged to visit to read more about Bill 29 and the representation votes.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE