An NDP government would ban mandatory overtime for nurses

Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew said Sept. 4 that an NDP government would pass legislation to ban the use of mandatory overtime by nurses as a staffing tool.

“One consequence of Pallister’s rushed and reckless health cuts has been a dramatic increase in forced overtime for nurses,” said Kinew in a press release. “Everyone would agree that requiring a nurse to work overtime is reasonable in a public-health crisis, or during long surgeries. But using it routinely to fill the gaps caused by government spending cuts is bad for patient care, increases burnout, and is wasteful. These shifts are either being filled at a higher rate of pay, or they are short-staffed. Both options jeopardize patient and nurse safety. We will ban this practice by law.”

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The NDP leader said Saint Boniface Hospital nurses begin tracking on their own how much mandatory overtime they were required to do. In 2018, they said the number of incidents per month was 157.2, up from an average of 27.3 in 2017.

“I’ve been hearing from nurses who have worked in Manitoba for years that they have never seen things worse,” said Kinew, adding that the NDP would reduce the need for mandatory overtime by training and hiring more nurses and that he would regularly meet face-to-face with frontline health care workers to hear their perspective and concerns. “Patient care is suffering. Nurses are at the front lines of care, and we should listen to them and treat them with the respect they deserve.” 

Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said her members would welcome a ban on mandatory overtime.

“Legislation like this would have a direct and positive impact for patient care, and for nurses providing that care. The fact is forced overtime has been relied upon by employers and government to address staffing shortages that, in many instances, were created by government and employers. It’s an unsafe situation for patients and nurses alike, and nurses have been continually forced to cover for these repeated mistakes. Forcing nurses to work overtime because of health care cuts is unsafe and unfair. With a robust recruitment and retention plan, we believe a ban could be enacted within a four-year timeframe. This policy is also good for recruitment and retention, which has been hampered in recent years by cuts and excessive overtime. Nurses have repeatedly spoken out about how recent cuts and closures are chasing nurses out of a system that desperately needs more.”

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