Manitoba NDP repeats call for independent investigation after patient dies waiting for care

The leader of Manitoba’s Opposition is again calling for an independent investigation into an incident where a man died last week while waiting for care in the province’s largest hospital.

That’s what is needed to make sure the public gets answers about what led to a patient dying while waiting for treatment in the crowded emergency room department at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre on Feb. 27, Wab Kinew said during question period on Tuesday, repeating a call he’d made during question period a day earlier.

“Manitobans deserve to hear the answers and they deserve accountability,” Kinew said.

In response, Premier Heather Stefanson said on Tuesday that an investigation into what happened during the patient’s time at the hospital is already underway and committed to sharing its results.

During Monday’s question period, she said both Shared Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority were looking into the incident.

Manitoba's premier, dressed in black and wearing aviator-style glasses, standing at a microphine. A row of provincial flags is behind her.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson says her government will ensure the results of an investigation into a death at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre will be made public. (CBC News)

“The investigative process as to what transpired during this time and resulted in this is continuing to take place right now,” she said.

“We will make sure that the results of that are made public.”

A nurse working in the hospital the night the man died while waiting for care, who spoke to CBC News this week, said staff had been warning hospital executives and the government that such an incident was possible as staff struggled to keep up with patient levels.

On Tuesday, Kinew also pressed Stefanson to share when her government first became aware of how bad the staffing issues were at the hospital.

“There’s nothing preventing the premier from addressing the concerns brought forward by these nurses or the failure in communication by her government to respond to them in a timely fashion,” he said.

“One way that we can get answers to these questions is by calling an independent investigation.”

Stefanson said her government wants to ensure the man’s family gets the answers they need through the investigation process, and characterized it as inappropriate to discuss individual cases in the legislature because of Manitoba’s Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) — a similar comment to one she made last week when Kinew raised the case.

In response, Kinew suggested Stefanson was using the legislation to try to avoid answering questions about the hospital incident.

“No personal health information has been shared in this debate,” he said.

“And for the premier to invoke that now suggests either one, she doesn’t understand PHIA, or two, perhaps she’s invoking it to try and shield herself from accountability questions.”

Stefanson replied by saying human resources issues in health-care are being seen across the country, and Manitoba has introduced recent measures to try to retain more nurses.