The provincial authorities is spending over $482,000 on increasing the College of Manitoba’s respiratory therapist program, to assist deal with a labour scarcity that is been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well being Minister Audrey Gordon introduced Wednesday that 4 extra seats will probably be added this month to the three-year undergraduate program, for a complete of 20 seats, on the province’s solely respiratory therapist coaching program.

Respiratory therapists are specialised health-care professionals skilled to diagnose and deal with sufferers requiring fundamental and complicated cardiopulmonary providers. They work intently below the route of a medical physician.

The virtually half-million-dollar funding will offset a number of the working prices for the brand new seats, together with offering the mandatory gear.

“We all know from Statistics Canada that they’ve recognized a labour scarcity for respiratory therapists in Canada over the subsequent 10 years, with an estimated 20-25 per cent emptiness price in Manitoba,” Dr. Peter Nickerson, vice-provost (well being sciences) and dean of the College of Manitoba’s Rady College of Well being Sciences, mentioned at Wednesday’s announcement.

“This [shortage] has already began placing a pressure on acute care providers and emergency transportation and the care of continual circumstances locally,” he mentioned.

Class of 2022 respiratory remedy graduate Lisa Birchard mentioned the demand for respiratory therapists in Manitoba has grown lately as respiratory sicknesses just like the seasonal flu are extra prevalent this time of yr. (Ian Froese)

To assist deal with this scarcity, Manitoba’s regulatory physique allowed 13 college students to graduate from the respiratory remedy program a month early in fall of 2021. The scarcity has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Between 65 and 70 individuals apply yearly for this system.

Uzoma Asagwara, well being care critic for the Opposition New Democrats, accused the Progressive Conservative authorities of usually approaching well being care from a spot of desirous to make cuts.

Asagwara pointed to Well being Sciences Centre, Seven Oaks and Concordia hospitals in 2020, suggesting all three have been 20 per cent quick on respiratory therapists.

“It’s going to take three years to see these therapists really working in hospital, and within the meantime, with out a centered a retention technique, Manitoba will proceed to lose annoyed and overworked frontline employees,” Asagwara mentioned in a press release. “Investing in coaching alone won’t repair well being care, it would additionally take repairing the connection with well being care staff who’ve been mistreated and ignored because the PCs took workplace.”

Lisa Birchard, a category of 2022 respiratory remedy graduate, mentioned the demand for respiratory therapists in Manitoba has grown in latest days as respiratory sicknesses just like the seasonal flu are extra prevalent this time of yr.