The Manitoba New Democrats presented a document on Thursday during question period which showed vacancy rates exceed 15% for some health-care positions in Prairie Mountain Health (PMH).

Official Opposition leader Wab Kinew called it a “clear trend”, that the Pallister government’s cutting of health-care services is resulting in “fewer people working at the bedside and helping our seniors."

Kinew pointed to the vacancy rate of 31% for registered nurses at the Dauphin Regional Health Centre as of August — which works out to 32 job openings.

Staffing shortages in PMH have resulted in some emergency room closures, including Erickson, Shoal Lake — and more recently Roblin, a move the health authority maintains is a temporary measure.

Prairie Mountain Health CEO Penny Gilson stated the regional health authority “is very cognizant of its vacancy rates,” and they are working “extremely hard trying to fill as many vacancies as we can. We are continuously advertising to fill vacancies.”

Gilson spoke to the challenges of recruiting to rural areas, and also said PMH has instituted “a number of employment strategies/initiatives towards promoting the benefits of working and living in rural Manitoba, with all the lifestyle benefits our region offers.”