Manitoba NDP’s Rural Health Care Plan Delivers Better Health Care and a Brighter Future to Rural Manitoba

'Speaking to an audience of municipal leaders and rural families, Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew announced his party’s plan to fix rural health care,' states this morning's media release.   Kinew was joined at the podium by NDP candidates, Wayne Chacun, a paramedic from Virden, and Mike Sudak, a veteran and councilor from Carberry.  

Kinew shared his thoughts about the many changes in health care, especially in the rural areas of the province.  “The biggest challenge facing rural communities right now is health care,” Kinew told the audience in Virden. “Brian Pallister and Heather Stefanson eroded rural health care for seven years, leaving rural families cut off from care and rural communities struggling to build a future. Our team is ready to fix that with common sense solutions that will deliver better health care and a brighter future for rural families and communities.”

"It was important for us to come to Virden specifically, and to Westman generally, because it seems like this region has seen so many closures across so many communities and so many concerns from even the health centers that remain open, about staffing and about services, and how are we going to make it so the people get the health care that they need where they live," shares Kinew.

"So, for us, we're very passionate about health care as the Manitoba NDP," he continues, "and this seemed like the right location to unveil our commitments to help make sure that health care stays strong, whether you live in Virden, whether you live in Carberry, whether you live in any part of this great province."

"I think we're in a crisis when it comes to health care," shares Kinew, "and I think folks realize that; specifically the staffing crisis.  We don't have the lab techs, the physicians and the nurses, the paramedics, to be able to meet the needs of our population. I think unfortunately there's been a few mistakes made by governments over the years that have contributed to the situation."

"The piece that really concerns me is right now Saskatchewan is making a heavy push to recruit health care talent; so is Ontario and many of the other provinces. So, I think Manitoba has to really get into the game.  We've got to put forward a strong plan that's not only competitive on the career side, but also shows the folks working on the front lines of the system that they're valued and that there is going to be a future for them here in the province.  Because otherwise, we could risk the situation getting even worse. 

"So, that's what our commitment today is all about; it's about the people who make the healthcare system work, and consequently improving things for the patients who rely on them."


The governing Conservatives fired back reminding Manitobans that the Manitoba NDP is once again hiding from their own record as they hold a healthcare announcement in the Riding Mountain constituency today - the same constituency that saw the Erickson and Birtle ERs permanently closed by the previous NDP Selinger government.

"Without a world-wide pandemic or global nursing shortage, the Selinger-Kinew NDP closed 16 rural ERs and saw Grace Hospital post the worst ER wait times in the entire country," said Ron Schuler.

"Moday's 'announcement' is surely lacking details and is an attempt to hide from their abysmal record on rural healthcare."


'The NDP’s plan addresses the closures of rural ERs and health care centers, health care staffing shortages, and dangerous wait times for emergency care caused by seven years of Brian Pallister and Heather Stefanson’s cuts to rural health care,' states the NDP Media Release.

1.      More doctors in rural communities.

We’ll reinstate the rural physician recruitment fund that Brian Pallister cut and then we’ll double it. More doctors in rural Manitoba will keep families healthier with better primary and emergency care. Restoring this fund will help recruit more doctors in rural areas while taking the pressure off smaller communities that have been forced to fundraise for their healthcare.

2.      Shorter wait times for ambulances and better cell service.

We’ll fill the paramedic staffing vacancies that grew under Brian Pallister and Heather Stefanson by giving rural paramedics a new contract, paying them the same as Winnipeg paramedics and allowing Advanced Care Paramedics to work to their full scope of practice. And we’ll work to improve cell service in rural communities so emergency calls don’t drop.  

3.      More staff to keep rural health centres open.

We’ll keep ERs open by recruiting and retaining more diagnostic imaging and lab technologists by giving them a competitive deal. And we’ll offer incentives to allied health professionals, nurses and nurse practitioners to work in rural communities.   

4.      Health technology to connect families with the best specialists.

We’ll equip rural health care centres with technology to reduce patient transfers and connect rural families with the best specialists in the province. And we’ll improve rural broadband to support this.

5.      The care seniors need to stay healthy at home.

We’ll reimburse homecare workers properly for their mileage to help seniors age in place. We’ll build more Personal Care Home beds to keep seniors in their home communities. And we’ll increase access to primary care in rural communities to keep seniors healthy.

Virden Paramedic Wayne Chacun spoke in support of Kinew’s plan. “I’ve been working in rural EMS since the early 80s and things have never been as bad as they are now. Ambulance diversions, closed hospitals and staffing shortages are putting patients in danger. We can’t afford to lose more paramedics to Winnipeg because the PC government won’t treat them fairly.The Manitoba NDP’s plan will help fix staffing shortages and keep patients safe.” 

Mike Sudak, a veteran, and councillor for the RM of Carberry told the audience about his family’s harrowing journey down the highway in search of medical care for his wife whose throat was swelling up. After finding their local ER closed, he decided they didn’t have time to wait for an ambulance, and he drove her 40 minutes down the highway to Brandon himself.  “I never thought the country I served for, a G7 nation that other countries look to for help, would have closed hospitals with no doctors or ambulances,” he said. “It’s disheartening and I feel let down.” Mr. Sudak thanked Wab Kinew for putting forward a plan to help solve the problems in rural health care.

'The Manitoba NDP’s rural health care commitments are one part of their comprehensive plan to fix health care across the province,' notes the media release.


First Brian Pallister and now Heather Stefanson have cut rural health care for 7 long years

· Pallister and Stefanson cut an important recruitment tool, cutting a $4.2M program that recruited doctors to work in rural communities (MB Budget)

· The PCs ordered $36 million dollars from Rural RHAs in 2017/18

  • Prairie Mountain Health Authority = $17.5 million;
  • Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority = $8 million
  • Southern Health – Santé Sud = $11 million (Source: RHA Funding Letters)

· Cut 62 positions across rural RHAs in 17/18

  • Prairie Mountain Health Authority – 24
  • Southern Health – Santé Sud – 19
  • Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority – 19 (Source: RHA Funding Letters)

· PCs cancelled PCH projects like a new PCH worth $32 million for Lac du Bonnet in 2017

o They underspend Health Capital in 2021 by 55% leaving $160 million dollars unspent – and they cut the amount by health capital in their last budget (Source: MB Public Accounts 2021/22; MB Budget 2022/23)

· Just prior to the pandemic more cuts were made: cuts to staff-to-patient ratios included:

  • $3.2 M – Prairie Mountain Health
  • $2 M – Southern Health
  • $1.2 M – Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority (Source: FIPPA, annual health plans fiscal 19/20)

· The PCs still forced cuts on hospitals, even during a pandemic. In 21/22:

  • Prairie Region - $2.8 M cut for vacancy management
  • Southern Health - $2.2 M in efficiencies
  • Interlake - $516,000 for streamlining and efficiencies (Source: RHA Funding Letters 2021/22)

· PCs announced plans to close Rural Emergency Rooms in Roblin and Carberry and close 23 rural EMS stations in communities like Grandview and Riverton

· Cut 75 nursing seats at Red River while spending tens of millions of dollars on agency nurses in each RHA per year.

  • PMH: $12 million in 2021/22
  • Southern: $6 million in 2021/22
  • IERHA: $7 million in 2021/22

· Home Care workers are delivering fewer hours of care to more patients across the regions while funding has been cut (Source: FIPPA documents, RHAs 2021/22)

· There are over 2,400 vacant nurse positions in Manitoba and vacancy rates are getting worse:

  • Southern Health, Nurse Vacancy = 24% (Aug/22)
  • Interlake-Eastern, LPN Vacancy = 23% (Aug/22)
  • Prairie Region, Nurse Vacancy = 24% (Aug/22

Please listen to more of the interview with Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew and CJRB's Barry Lamb as they discuss topics such as recruitment, health care for seniors, and funding more services at the front line.