The provincial government is making it easier for former nurses to temporarily practice in Manitoba in response to COVID-19.

"We're acting out of an abundance of caution," Health Minister Cameron Friesen explains.

Premier Brian Pallister adds the move is not a reactionary measure, but one that's been planned for.

Friesen issued an order under the Regulated Health Professions Act Wednesday to enable the registrar of the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba to waive or modify registration requirements for former registered nurses, allowing them to apply for temporary registration during the pandemic on an expedited basis.

"We know the pandemic will place additional strain on the health-care system, and we’re making this regulatory change to ensure former nurses can be called upon to bolster the number of nurses in our hospitals, personal care homes and clinics to provide services to patients," Friesen says. "I want to thank the College of Registered Nurses and their registrants for working with us to make sure we can prepare for the challenges we face and ensure the safe care of Manitoba patients."

Former registrants of the college seeking information on temporary registration requirements should visit the College of Registered Nurses' website. In addition, application and registration fees will be waived for former registrants applying for temporary registration via this process.

The minister noted the order will remain in place until there is no longer a serious and immediate threat to public health.