Evaluating the effect of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba's austerity-centred approach on Manitoba's healthcare system from 2016 to 2022

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Burley, Katherine
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Austerity – a set of economic policies intended to reduce or eliminate yearly budget deficits and diminish the overall size of the state – is often enacted by governments when they believe saving, rather than spending, is the most effective way to stimulate the economy. The effects of austere policies, such as budget cuts, privatizations, and contracting out, have been and continue to be the subject of debate and exploration amongst policymakers, economists, and scholars alike. This paper examines the effect of austerity on the healthcare system – specifically on healthcare workers and their ability to deliver care – in Manitoba in the years since 2016, when the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba (PCP) reclaimed governing power from the New Democratic Party of Manitoba (NDP). It analyzes a series of quantitative measures of Manitoba’s healthcare system funding and performance, including expenditures, wait times, and job vacancy rates within the sector, supplemented by a qualitative analysis of survey responses from more than 450 of the province’s healthcare workers. It shows that 1) the PCP has included healthcare as part of its broad austerity agenda and 2) the effects on healthcare workers and their ability to provide care have been and continue to be overwhelmingly negative, which accords with the existing literature on austerity and healthcare. Although most provinces have found their healthcare systems in crisis in recent years, the findings presented in this paper suggest that Manitoba under an austerity-focused-PCP fares worse than the national average by almost every measure.
Healthcare, Austerity, Manitoba, PCP, Conservative