News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

April 11, 2023

Manitoba Government Providing $5-Million Boost to Surgical Care Staffing

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Operating Room Assistant Positions Piloted to Support Surgical Teams and Increase Capacity: Gordon

The Manitoba government is investing $5 million to add 70 new operating room assistants to support surgical care teams and increase overall capacity across the province, Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced today. The initiative is a part of the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force’s continued efforts to reduce waitlists for diagnostic and surgical procedures in Manitoba.

“Operating room assistants play an important supporting role in our operating rooms, freeing up time for nurses to focus on the delivery of safe and effective care of Manitoba patients,” said Gordon. “These positions are designed to help facilitate increased surgical capacity in our province, which is a mandate of the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force.”

With a combination of education, training and orientation, operating room assistants will provide vital support to patient care teams in a number of ways. Responsibilities will range from decontaminating rooms and disinfecting equipment, to transferring and preparing patients safely for surgery, readying instruments and equipment during procedures, and cleaning post-procedure.

The 12-week micro-certification course to become an operating room assistant includes a combination of virtual education and clinical on-the-job orientation specific to the environment in which graduates will work. The initial course started in January and accepted 29 students, with graduates expected to be phased into the health workforce in the coming months as part of a pilot project, the minister noted.

Operating room assistants will be welcome additions to surgical teams, and will help ensure patients access and receive more timely care, the minister said, adding that operating room assistants will not be trained to carry out the same responsibilities as nurses, but will be members of the surgical team providing additional support.

“This training will provide operating room assistants with the preparation, the knowledge and the abilities they need to work alongside and support nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists and other staff who make up our talented surgical teams,” said Monika Warren, chief operating officer of provincial co-ordinated health services and chief nursing officer, Shared Health. “Nurses, in turn, will be able to focus more on performing the tasks that require their specialized skills. All of this will help to expand our surgical capacity, so Manitobans waiting for important procedures can start to see wait times decrease.”

The first group of operating room assistants will be trained and oriented to surgery and procedure environments at HSC Winnipeg (including adult, women and pediatric operating rooms), Victoria General Hospital, Misericordia Health Centre, Grace Hospital, St. Boniface Hospital, Pan Am Clinic and Selkirk Regional Health Centre. Expansion of the program to additional sites across Manitoba will be considered based on the success and evaluation of the pilot.

Training is provided at no cost and participants are paid a full salary while completing the course as part of a two-year return of service agreement.

Applicants to the course must have recognized health-care aide training and at least three years of experience working in an acute care setting. Full eligibility requirements for operating room assistant roles can be found at

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