Premier Wab Kinew plans to shake up health system
January 3, 2024
WINNIPEG – A plan is in the works to overhaul Manitoba’s health authorities with the goal of putting the patient experience at the centre. Premier Wab Kinew (pictured) said the NDP government is reviewing the operations of the regional health authorities, which he described as one of the most important items on his agenda.
“There is a real need to improve the culture in healthcare, and the current status quo with the service-delivery organizations is just not something that is supportive of us improving things on the front lines,” Kinew told the Winnipeg Free Press.
“We are spending more money every single year in healthcare and we’re getting worse results. Something has to change.”
The Manitoba government has five regional health authorities responsible for services, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and community and home-care programs.
Shared Health was established in 2018 as a provincial authority as part of the former Progressive Conservative government’s health system transformation.
Over the past five years, regional administrative functions such as procurement, labour relations, capital planning and information and technology services were consolidated under Shared Health, as part of a larger reorganization of the health system.
Shared Health is also responsible for the Health Sciences Centre and diagnostic, emergency-response and specialized clinical services, including mental-health and addictions programming.
Kinew said the purpose of the planning exercise is to improve accountability at health authorities. It will include a close look at how the organizations “go about their business,” he said.
The premier likened the work to “reverse-engineering” the health system, beginning with patients and front-line workers at the centre, and then designing the health bureaucracy around their experiences.
“It means being responsive to the needs of the people, and right now in the work that we see coming from the service-delivery organizations, I don’t know that there is that connection to what is needed on the front lines and what’s needed from the patients,” Kinew said.
During the election campaign, the NDP promised to slash the bureaucracy at Shared Health and pledged to change the culture of healthcare in a bid to retain workers and recruit additional staff for the province’s beleaguered hospitals.
The campaign pledge came with a warning to health bureaucrats that if they’re not successful at improving conditions, they will be replaced.
The premier did not delve into the specifics of his vision for healthcare administration, but reiterated that a new plan is needed.
It will complement the NDP plan to staff up hospitals as it looks towards opening three new emergency departments in Winnipeg, he said, and political oversight will be key.
“Would like to take steps towards that in 2024,” Kinew said.