A draft report commissioned by the Manitoba government found most of the province’s health workforce reported a low level of well-being and resilience and was ready to quit, posing a risk to both employees and patients.
The 51-page confidential document produced by Deloitte last April was released by Manitoba’s NDP and Liberals in question period Monday.
The report contains 34 recommendations to support health workers that were developed through focus groups, interviews and surveys with people on the front lines.
“Employee resilience and well-being in the Manitoba health system is at a point where change is needed,” the report states.
The authors say the rate of burnout reported by health-care workers in Manitoba (68 per cent) is higher than counterparts in other provinces and more employees (54 per cent) are seriously considering leaving their jobs than in other parts of Canada.
“People in the health-care sector are stressed out and this government is at a loss for potential solutions,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said. “Their only answer seems to be to spend more money on bureaucracy and consultants.
“The answer should be just to listen to those on the front lines.”
The draft report says low levels of resiliency and well-being are driven by “contextual factors” including workload, hours and management, and not by individual employees’ ability to cope.
“While the pandemic has put significant stress on the health system, many of these structural and systemic factors existed beforehand,” the report’s authors noted.
The situation was unlikely to improve without focused and targeted changes, the report said. It identified six challenges to employee well-being in order of importance: no co-ordinated employee well-being strategy, heavy workloads, compensation and wage freezes, management lacking availability and skills, workplace culture and limited well-being resources.
Recommendations to address challenges were preliminary and intended to be confirmed through a second assessment phase which, according to the report, would not go ahead.
The consultant suggested Manitoba develop an integrated health-system employee resilience and well-being program, review staffing ratios and scheduling, conduct real-time workload monitoring, fill vacancies, review compensation, improve employee recognition and offer paid wellness days, among other changes.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont accused the government of keeping the report and recommendations, which was brought forward by health-care workers, secret.
“Why has this critical information about our health-care system been buried and its recommendations ignored when action is desperately needed?” Lamont asked in question period.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon said the government appreciates and values people working in health care and the people in charge of the system are committed to a “supportive and safe and healthy environment.”
“It’s been a tough time for everyone living in this province coming through a very difficult pandemic.
“We recognize that there are vacancies, that those vacancies need to be filled and we are committed as a government to providing the resources that are needed,” said Gordon, who didn’t make herself available to reporters afterward.
Kinew said the Tories should say how much Deloitte was paid to perform work that he argued could have been carried out by government staff. He said an NDP government would fix the issues identified in the report by listening to front-line staff.
“They have solutions for how to fix staffing issues in their units, in their departments, they’ve got ideas for how to improve patient care,” Kinew said. “What’s been missing is a government that would listen.”
Gordon has repeatedly said her department is taking that initiative and meeting directly with nurses and other health-care providers.
On Monday, the minister’s office did not immediately respond to questions about the report’s recommendations and plans for implementation.