Manitoba health-care unions call for workplace safety certifications amid high injury rates – Winnipeg


Manitoba’s health-care unions are calling on the province to get all health facilities workplace safety certifications to cut down on the high rate of worker injuries.

A Worker’s Compensation Board report shows health-care workers have the highest injury rate of any major sector in the province. From 2017 to 2021, there were 14,000 injuries – around 4.5 per 100 workers — serious enough for the worker to need time off.

In Manitoba, health care “is the most dangerous sector to work in,” said Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour. “That’s wrong. That needs to change, and it won’t change without this government making a firm commitment to certify these facilities to keep workers safe and take preventative steps to take care of the health-care workers who are taking care of us.”

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Union presidents attribute the danger to chronic staffing issues taking a toll on workers, which leads to stress, burnout and human error.

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“When you’re working short, you’re often running around, you’re trying to accomplish your day in just the little bit of time,” said Debbie Boissonneault, president of CUPE 204, which represents health-care aides and other support staff. “Sometimes working short comes with cutting corners.

“When you’re working short, you don’t have that extra pair of hands to help you.”

Jason Linklater, president of the Manitoba Association of Healthcare Professionals, added: “Paramedics have been attending critical calls and trauma calls for years without any mental health supports in place. Due to the staffing crisis, both paramedics and 911 dispatchers jump from one call to the next without the chance to take a breath.”

The unions want the provincial government to ensure all health-care facilities are Safe Work certified within five years. Rebeck said private sector industries, such as construction and trucking, saw injury rates drop significantly with Safe Work certifications in place.

Rebeck also said getting these certifications would cost less than the WCB premiums workers are currently paying.

“Because of its high injury rate, the health-care sector pays one of the highest WCB premium rates in the province,” said Rebeck.

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In a statement, a spokesperson for the Manitoba government said: “With a whole of government approach, we are working together with Workers Compensation Board, SAFE Work Manitoba, healthcare leaders and healthcare unions, to strengthen workplace safety across the entire system to ensure our workers in healthcare can effectively focus on patient care.”

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