More babies are on the way, so the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is adding nurses to its obstetrics units.
The birthrate at Winnipeg Regional Health Authority facilities has jumped more than eight per cent since 2011, officials say.
The province is providing an extra $2.3 million to Winnipeg's two obstetrics units, at St. Boniface Hospital and Health Sciences Centre.
The extra money will pay for an additional nurse around the clock at HSC and two at St. Boniface. In total, it will add 12.6 full-time equivalent positions at the units.
The obstetrics units at Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospital handled 11,710 deliveries in 2017-18. In 2010-11, the two facilities saw 10,783 newborns.
The director of women's health for the WRHA says obstetrics can be "uncontrollable and unpredictable," but the new hires should meet the increasing demand and smooth out the rise and fall in the number of expectant mothers receiving care in the units.
"One day you can have 21 patients in triage and the next day you can have zero, so what we have to be able to do is build a system that is very resilient to manage those surges in volume," said Lynda Tjaden.
The new funding goes into effect immediately and current part–time staff will be offered extra shifts in the interim; new positions will be posted soon.
Stephanie Thevenot, a labour and delivery nurse at HSC, told reporters the new funding will allow staff to give the best possible care to expectant families.
"We will have more nurses available on the unit to reduce the number of times that families are delayed from coming in for an induction, delayed in starting their C-sections, or reduce the times women are in the waiting room in triage," Thevenot said.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen, who was at the announcement of the new obstetrics positions, downplayed the reduction of admissions into Red River College's registered nursing program from 225 to 150 seats annually.
Friesen was asked repeatedly if he agreed with the position of the Manitoba Nurses Union that there is a "chronic nursing shortage" in Manitoba.
He did not answer the question directly, saying that the province is focused on graduating the appropriate number of nurses as existing positions become available through retirement and attrition.
"We are training those nurses in the province of Manitoba. We are doing it in conjunction with those post–secondary institutions who do that work. That's what I need to keep my eye on as the minister. Are we adequately making sure there are seats there to make sure our workforce can be strong?"
Nursing is expected to be one of the top occupations for job openings in the province over the next six years, says a 2018 labour market forecast report from the Manitoba government.