March 28, 2022 — Over the past two years, it has become clear that Canada needs to give a long, hard look at the challenges faced by our health-care system and reimagine how all levels of government can better support health-care workers and deliver results for people living in this country.
Action and leadership are needed to ensure the sustainability of our health-care system and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) applauds the federal government for taking a step in the right direction.
The federal government announced an investment of $2 billion to help provincial and territorial governments reduce the backlog of surgeries by providing additional support for the health workforce. The federal government also outlined five priority areas for collaboration with provincial and territorial governments: backlogs and health workers; access to primary care; long-term care and home care; mental health; and virtual care.
“We are pleased to see that the federal government is listening to our concerns and recognizes nurses and other frontline health-care workers as a key priority,” said Tim Guest, president of CNA. “Over recent decades, but especially during these last two years, we have seen alarming mental health distress and burnout rates for nurses, and we have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has made nursing shortages in Canada even worse.”
“Nurses are the backbone of the health-care system and retaining them and other health-care workers is at the heart of fixing the backlog of surgeries and medical procedures,” said Guest. “Patients deserve accessible and timely health-care services, but we know there is a critical link between patient outcomes and adequate nurse staffing. If we do not have effective strategies to retain the workforce that we have now, no recruitment strategy is going to make the difference.”
To help address Canada’s health workforce crisis and deliver better outcomes for patients, CNA recommends that all levels of government work collaboratively with health professionals and employers to:
- Implement evidence-based and innovative retention strategies for health-care workers immediately
- Create a pan-Canadian health workforce strategy, including addressing data gaps
- Optimize workloads for health-care workers, including strategies related to scope of practice, skill mix, and teams
- Create a national mental health strategy for health-care workers
- Increase system capacity for education of nurses and health-care workers
- Fast-track the licensing and employment of internationally educated health workers
CNA looks forward to supporting and collaborating with all levels of government to ensure people living in Canada can receive the care they need when they need it.
About the Canadian Nurses Association
CNA is the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing. We represent registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed and registered practical nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, retired nurses, and nursing students across all 13 provinces and territories.
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