Media release: System at breaking point

By ARNM posted 01-12-2021 00:00



New results from a survey of more than 1100 nurses across care settings in Manitoba offers a glimpse into the experience of those at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and paints a dire picture of the provincial response to the pandemic

January 11, 2021 - WINNIPEG MB

Findings from a survey done with members of the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba (ARNM) shows the negative impact of the COVID19 pandemic for nurses and patients. The pandemic has exposed the fragility in our health care system and highlighted the outdated organizational structures that in general fail to recognize and value the professional expertise of nurses.

“Every day, nurses provide expert, quality and compassionate care to patients in Manitoba. In fact, it is often the nursing profession and nurses who have the most in-depth knowledge of patients, clients and populations,” said Cheryl Cusack, executive director of ARNM. “This makes it extremely troubling that the survey findings show a massive disconnect between nurses and decision-makers as they express concern for clients, whether those individuals are in long-term care, acute care or the community.”

The survey findings highlighted the lack of provincial planning and preparedness as the second wave of the virus hit the province, resulting in patients/clients not receiving the level of care they need due to staff shortages, mandated overtime, increased patient needs, and nurses being redeployed to areas outside of their expertise.

One member of the Association commented on the impact for clients, “Nurses are being re-deployed to work with COVID and our disadvantaged clients are being left to fend for themselves such as those with mental health challenges, new moms and babies, or regularly scheduled infant and child immunizations.”

Jennifer Dunsford, president of ARNM said, “Despite the fact that the second wave was highly predictable, the government failed to have a long-term pandemic plan for the people of Manitoba, which has hurt the people of Manitoba. Given our experience with the first wave, the government should have taken appropriate steps to increase contact tracing capacity, hire more staff and provide healthcare workers with the resources they need in order to protect Manitobans and save lives.”

In addition to concerns regarding patients, nurses also expressed worry about impacts for their families, their own mental and physical health and ultimately the long-term effects on the profession including a potential for many to leave nursing altogether.

In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, nurses continue to demonstrate leadership, professionalism and commitment in all healthcare settings to care for patients and help prevent the spread of the virus. We strongly request that the government of Manitoba take steps immediately to provide nurses with the resources they need to do their job, increase capacity in the provincial health system and ensure nurses are included in healthcare decisions.

About the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba

The Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba is the professional voice for all nursing designations, nursing students and retired nurses. We advocate for and promote the profession of nursing and healthy public policy. We support our members by providing professional development opportunities and resources while celebrating excellence in nursing.

- 30 -

For more information, please contact:

Alyson Pile

Communications Advisor

Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba



This study aimed to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurse’s professional practice. A mixed-methods survey was piloted with a small group of members from the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba. The survey was then distributed to all members of the Association, which includes licensed practical nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners. These nurses were from urban, rural, and remote Manitoba, and worked in roles ranging from direct care to leadership and administration.

The survey questions asked the nurses to rank their level of agreement regarding the pandemic response, using a 5-point scale that ranged from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The survey also included open text boxes, for nurses to include additional comments they wished to provide. The survey link was circulated using the Survey Monkey platform on Nov 9, 2020, and Nov 13th, and closed on Dec 2, 2020. 1192 nurses completed the survey, representing an 11.75% response rate among Association members. The data was analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Findings highlight nurses’ perceptions of the negative impacts on their practice resulting from COVID and the dire consequences to the most vulnerable clients. Nurses reported that their concerns are not being acknowledged; they want their voices heard, their expertise recognized by decision-makers and action taken to improve outcomes for patients/clients.

ARNM media release_COVID Survey