The Canadian Union of Public Employees remains opposed to the sweeping changes to Winnipeg’s health care services announced by the WRHA in April 2017. These changes included the closure of community ERs, Urgent Care, as well as the shuffling of community‑based mental health programs.
Today’s WRHA announcement that identifies the timelines in which these changes are to be made is troubling. “These sweeping changes were announced without community input, and it seems they are now being implemented at break‑neck speed despite broad community opposition,” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE’s Provincial Health Care Coordinator. “Health care support workers, doctors, nurses, even eye doctors have raised serious concerns with the closures and program changes, and these experts on the ground are clearly not being listened to.”
While CUPE members participated in on‑site forums held by the WRHA over the past number of weeks and participated in the Winnipeg Wait‑Time Reduction Task Force consultation which had fewer than 15 participants, there has been no meaningful opportunities for the community to voice their concerns.
“It has been abundantly clear that neither the community, nor labour, nor experts in the field were consulted in the lead‑up to the government’s changes to health care,” said McAteer. “These changes triggered protests outside health care facilities, as well as in the community, and I expect these protests will continue.”
CUPE believes that strong investments must be made in health care, and that the government’s mandated “savings” are nothing short of a direct cut to front‑line health care services.
“We have already seen the impacts of cuts to the quality of care in the North, and now we’re seeing it here in Winnipeg,” said McAteer, citing protests against staff shortages in the Northern Regional Health Authority as a result of the government’s mandate.
“The provincial government’s ill‑conceived mission to find ‘savings’ in health care is becoming nothing short of reckless, and someone is about to get hurt.”
CUPE acknowledges the WRHA’s statement that collective agreements will be honoured throughout the process and we expect to fully participate in discussions moving forward.