Government Provides New Benefits to Nurses in the Fight Against COVID-19

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A memorandum of agreement (MOA) has been signed to enable nursing staff from across the health system to be redeployed to areas of priority, as part of Manitoba’s response to the pandemic, including personal care homes, intensive care units (ICUs) and designated COVID-19 units. The agreement was announced today by Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen and Darlene Jackson, president, Manitoba Nurses Union.

“Thousands of nurses working in personal care homes and hospitals across the province are making an enormous difference in our province’s fight against COVID-19,” said Friesen. “Our government’s top priority is ensuring patients and PCH residents are provided with the best possible care. Working with nurses, we are taking every possible step to meet the needs of Manitobans with COVID-19 in our PCHs and acute care facilities. This agreement also recognizes many nurses on the front-line of the COVID-19 response for their dedication, commitment and compassion at a critical time.”

The MOA, signed today, permits health-care employers to make changes to nurse work assignments, work locations, schedules, shift patterns and/or hours of work in order to support the changing and evolving patient/resident care demands resulting from COVID-19.

In consideration for this flexibility to meet changing needs, the agreement establishes allowances for nurses who are affected by a disruption in their normal work schedule, travel associated with a reassignment or for redeployment to a personal care home, intensive care unit or designated COVID-19 unit, and the nurses working together with redeployed and reassigned staff. The benefits also extend to nurses working in units or facilities where an outbreak of COVID-19 is declared.

“Nurses have played a critical role on the front line of Manitoba’s pandemic response, and they have stepped up to the challenge, working countless long hours to provide quality care for patients and residents,” said Darlene Jackson, president of MNU. “Given the unprecedented circumstances we’re facing, we believe this MOA will support nursing recruitment and retention efforts in areas of significant need, and provide a clear process for redeployment that offers some security, certainty and recognition for affected nurses.”

The MOA further establishes a COVID-19 northern allowance, including travel reimbursement, with compensation for staff redeployed to the north, as well as an allowance for current northern nurses who work in one community but pick up additional shifts elsewhere in the region.

“Today’s agreement supports our efforts to increase and stabilize the health-care workforce that is supporting the needs of patients and residents in these priority areas,” said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer, Shared Health. “It recognizes the dedication, commitment and sacrifices of nurses who are caring for our sick and our most vulnerable in personal care homes and in hospital, and who are adapting to changes in duties or work location in order to fight the devastating effects of COVID-19.”

As part of any reassignment or redeployment, each individual nurse’s training and skill level, as well as the region in which they work, will be taken into account. Staff are assigned according to skillset and area of greatest need, and are provided with appropriate training and orientation to their new work environment and team. They are also provided with the necessary personal protective equipment for the setting in which they will work.

The MOA is in place for the duration of the pandemic response.

(Province of Manitoba News Release)