With over two thousand estimated vacant nursing positions, a union is asking whoever becomes Manitoba's next premier to make nurse staffing a priority. 

Last week, the Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU) was urging PC Party leadership candidates Heather Stefanson and Shelly Glover to read and sign a pledge committing to address the current critical nursing shortage.

“This next Premier will set the tone for the province, especially when it comes to our health care system. We need ACTION," President Darlene Jackson says in a statement.

Stefanson, who was the health minister briefly before running for party leadership, has signed the pledge. MNU says Glover reached out and spoke to Jackson on the phone this weekend wanting to work with MNU, but has not signed the proposed pledge.

"We need our government, under the leadership of the successful candidate, to improve working conditions so that we can ensure that the nurses we still have in our health care system STAY in our health care system," MNU's statement says.

At the end of July, there were 1,393 vacant nursing positions in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Shared Health, and now the MNU estimates there are roughly 2,200 vacant positions in Manitoba.  An MNU representative says they have not heard of any nurses quitting because of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate from the province that will affect them at the end of October.

One of their asks is for whoever wins the run for premier to do everything possible to repair relations jobs between nurses and the provincial government. MNU is also asking for better transparency between them and the government.

Throughout the pandemic, nursing has been pushed as they work understaffed, including now as other delayed care is increasing in urgency while Manitoba experiences a slowing between COVID-19 waves.