Urgent care nurses call for pay bump ER nurses are receiving

A group of urgent care nurses want to know why they are not eligible for a COVID-19 pay bump that emergency department nurses qualify for.

Dozens of urgent care nurses signed a letter asking for clarification on why they have the same training, but aren’t eligible for the six-dollar an hour pandemic premium.

The letter signed by nurses from Seven Oaks, Concordia, and Victoria Urgent Care says “We are perplexed at how we have been undervalued and unappreciated during the pandemic as we functioned as an ER while staffed as an UC.”

They claim in the letter that they cared for COVID patients on a daily basis without the luxury of extra staff and often faced missing breaks and had to work voluntary and mandated overtime.

“During this time, we also experienced an increase of the homeless and vulnerable population who were COVID-positive and had nowhere to self-isolate,” reads the letter.

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Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew is throwing his support behind the nurses.

“The financial incentive is actually an important policy tool that we have. Unfortunately, the PC government is too cheap to use it,” Kinew said.

“And the result is that our health care system is going to be weaker than it should be at a time when we need it most.”

Kinew says concerns about a fourth wave means hospital staffing should be the province’s top priority.

Shared Health says significant movement of nursing resources was required during the second and third waves to expand the number of ICU beds at HSC, St. Boniface Hospital, Grace Hospital and Brandon Regional Health Centre.

“These four EDs were directly affected and redeployment and reassignment were needed to support these efforts,” the statement reads.

“The premium – provided to nurses reassigned, redeployed or working in these four EDs – reflects the specific impact caused by the significant movement of nursing resources within these facilities to support critical care.”

Shared Health also says bargaining with the Manitoba Nurses Union is continuing through a mediation process. Nurses have been without a contract for four years.

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“While significant progress has already been made, we look forward to resolving the remainder of the outstanding proposals, which include general wage increases with retroactive effect and other monetary proposals, along with further measures to support recruitment and retention and improved work/life balance.”

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