Province releases plan to increase the number of nurses in Manitoba

The provincial government is looking to get more nursing students into Manitoba and is also working to get internationally educated nurses licensed.

The government announced Thursday it plans to add 400 new nursing education seats throughout Manitoba over the next few years.

Manitoba has around 800 nursing seats throughout six post-secondary schools and the intake for the first group of new seats will start during the 2021-22 school year.

Heather Stefanson, the minister of Health and Seniors Care, said these new seats will help increase the number of nurses available to work at hospitals in the years to come.

"We can accelerate the entry of prospective students into the nursing profession," said Stefanson.

Skills and Immigration Minister Wayne Ewasko said dealing with COVID-19 has shown how important nurses are to the province.

"It also showed us just how critical it is that we support those who want to get into the nursing field by making sure they have access to the education," said Ewasko.

He noted this will mean more licensed practical nurse graduates by 2023 and more registered nurses and psychiatric nurse graduates by 2025.

Ewasko said the province is putting forward $7.5 million to help with adding seats and once the government knows more from the post-secondary schools more can be allocated.

As part of the announcement Thursday, the province said it is also launching an initiative to help internationally educated nurses with financial assistance for assessment and training.

The province plans to provide $23,000 to the nurses who apply for the program.

"This includes funding for clinical competence assessments and bridge training, as well as other related expenses such as living allowance, transportation and childcare," the province said in a news release.

Ewasko added as part of the application process, the province can learn their educational background and skills and they can determine what upgrades these nurses need.

The nurses who want to apply for the program can do so through an online portal.