June 10, 2021 (OTTAWA, ON) – The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions was proud to learn earlier today that 98% of Manitoba Nurses Union members voted in favour of a strike mandate. With a unified and unwavering voice, Manitoba nurses have sent their premier a clear message: they won’t back down.
“Nurses have been working themselves ragged, not just caring for patients, but working to stem the spread of COVID-19,” said CFNU President Linda Silas. “In Manitoba, like in many other provinces, elected leaders have no qualms about applauding nurses’ efforts when cameras are rolling, only to turn around and undermine their working conditions behind closed doors.”
“We’ve had enough of this hypocrisy.”
Nurses in Manitoba have been without a contract for over four years. MNU members aren’t just standing up for better working conditions; they’re looking at the government to step up in the recruitment and retention of nurses. Unmanageable workloads and working short not only affects nurses, it deprives patients of proper care.
Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, has been clear that her goal remains to have the employer bargain in good faith. The union has repeatedly proposed binding arbitration, but the employer has refused every time.
“This government has basically painted us into a corner, we have no options, we have to do this now,” Jackson said, in a recent interview with CBC.
Because nurses are deemed essential providers, they can’t withdraw their labour like in a traditional strikes. Rather, nurses will stop performing non-essential tasks. Jackson emphasized that her goal is not to disrupt patient care, especially as the province still grapples with a high caseload of COVID-19.
“What’s especially egregious is that Premier Pallister put nurses in this position to begin with – especially during a global pandemic,” Silas remarked. “Nurses don’t want this fight; they just want to be able to go to work, in a safe workplace that properly supports them, and provide the best care for their patients.”
“But if the province wants a fight, I guarantee: nurses will bring it.”
Silas added that she’s especially proud of Manitoba’s nurses. She believes the strong strike shows clearly that nurses may be tired, but they won’t be defeated.
“They’ve shown a tremendous amount of courage, determination and solidarity – and I can’t wait to see that same kind of resolve spread across Canada.”
“Canada’s nurses have had enough – and they’re not going to back down.”