News / Winnipeg

'Nurses won’t stand for it': Union launches raucous protest against healthcare cuts

The Manitoba Nurses Union stormed the steps of the Manitoba Legislature Wednesday chanting "Care not cuts!"

The Manitoba Nurses Union descended on the Manitoba Legislature during the Wednesday lunch hour to protest proposed healthcare restructuring.

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski/Metro

The Manitoba Nurses Union descended on the Manitoba Legislature during the Wednesday lunch hour to protest proposed healthcare restructuring.

Nurses launched a massive protest against proposed emergency services cuts on the front steps of the Manitoba legislature Wednesday.

At least 500 supporters waved signs and chanted slogans like “Care not cuts!” and “We are the nurses, the mighty, mighty nurses!”, cheering loudly as a TV station helicopter circled the sky.

Sandi Mowat, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, took the podium alongside a nurse dressed as the grim reaper. Many other unions stood with the nurses in solidarity, including CUPE and MGEU.

“Our message to government is ‘Put patients first.’ When this government was elected, they promised they would invest in long-term care. They promised to reduce wait times. They promised they will protect frontline services that Manitobans depend on,” Mowat said.

“Instead, what are we seeing? Cuts, reckless cuts, that we’re calling restructuring and (are) compromising patient care.”

Manitoba nurses storm the legislature steps

  • Jessica Botelho-Urbanski/Metro

    Manitoba Nurses Union president Sandi Mowat speaks to hundreds of protesters at the Manitoba Legislature Wednesday.

  • Jessica Botelho-Urbanski/Metro

    Protesters gathered at the Manitoba Legislature Wednesday chanting, among many slogans, "Care not cuts!"

  • Jessica Botelho-Urbanski/Metro

    The Manitoba Nurses Union wants the government to "put patients first" when it comes to healthcare plans, president Sandi Mowat said.

Sharon Geddes (the makeshift grim reaper) waved her paper scythe in approval.

Geddes said she’s worked at the Misericordia Health Centre for 30 years. The province plans to close the Misericordia’s urgent care department.

“We’re ahead of three other emergencies in patient visits per year and they’re closing us entirely. They’re not repurposing it, they’re closing it,” she said. “It’s political, I think (because) we’re not in a blue riding.”

Concordia Hospital’s emergency department will also be closed and emergency departments at Seven Oaks Hospital and Victoria Hospital will be converted to urgent care centres. Patients will be redirected to three hospitals for emergency services – Health Sciences Centre, Grace Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital.

As of now, plans to re-dispatch nurses to new locations are still unclear and the nurses’ union hasn’t managed to meet with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority for more explanation, Mowat said. More protest plans are in the works, she added.

“Our message to the premier is simple: ‘Balancing your books on the backs of patients is unacceptable,’” Mowat said. “This isn’t restructuring … these are frontline service cuts. You’ve broken your promise and nurses won’t stand for it.”

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