‘You must act now’: 1,500 nurses write letter to Premier, Health Minister in support of doctors’ calls

WINNIPEG — A group of 1,500 Manitoba nurses has written a letter to provincial officials in support of their colleagues’ calls last week.

The letter is addressed to Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Cameron Friesen. 

The group of nurses said their letter is a show of support for their physician and PhD educated colleagues, who have been warning the government about the increasing strain on the health care system from COVID-19. 

“Those of us who are working on the front lines feel as though the plans that our colleagues have laid out are critical in providing any chance of our healthcare system surviving this pandemic. We fully support these recommendations,” the letter reads. 

“We also echo their sentiment that these are grave times, and that we therefore need significant and drastic measures in response. We are concerned that the current management plan is falling short, leading to catastrophic consequences.”

Last week, 200 doctors and other scientists signed a letter warning the COVID-19 pandemic is spiralling out of control in Manitoba. The letter raised concerns about hospital and critical care capacity and public health funding amid increasing cases of COVID-19 in the Winnipeg region.

Friesen said the letter appeared to have been timed to create chaos in the healthcare system during a time when COVID numbers were rising. He was then criticized for his response. Friesen didn’t apologize for his remarks, but did say he could have better chosen his words. 

Last week, when asked for his thoughts on the doctors’ letter, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said he values input from his colleagues but feels confident in the current measures.

The nurses’ letter notes they’ve been calling for urgent action for months. 

“We desperately need better resources and support across our healthcare system in order to appropriately care for our patients. Instead, we have watched as our province has acted reactively instead of proactively to COVID-19,” the letter said. “We have watched as decisions regarding policy and procedure have been made for healthcare providers on the front lines instead of with us. We ask that the province realizes the cost of this path.”

The nurses echo the calls of the physicians, saying the province needs to take stronger steps to lock down the province and implement the changes being called for in order to limit the spread of the virus. 

They are also calling for additional testing capacity, resources, PPE, and supplies in order to protect frontline workers and patients. 

The letter concluded by saying the government needs to take the recommendations from nurses and their colleagues as a united front seriously. 

“While drastic, they are the only hope our healthcare system has to not only heal, but survive moving forward. Lives are at stake. Our healthcare system is at stake. You must act now.”

-With files from CTV’s Josh Crabb and The Canadian Press

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