April 8, 2022 — The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) welcomes the federal government’s commitment to implement important measures that will have a positive impact on the health of all people living in Canada. Key commitments in Budget 2022 include billions of dollars to address housing affordability, funding to combat racism, creating a new dental care program, and a renewed commitment on pharmacare.
CNA is encouraged to see that labour shortages in the health-care sector and the need to increase the number of doctors and nurses is on the government’s radar. The budget proposes millions of dollars to help internationally trained health-care professionals get their credentials recognized in Canada. It also delivers on an election promise to expand the Canada student loans forgiveness program for doctors and nurses, with an encouraging commitment to review the definition of rural communities to ensure certain areas in need are not left out.
CNA was also pleased to see in the budget that the federal government intends to proceed with the March 25 announcement of a $2 billion top-up to the Canada Health Transfer to help provinces and territories address the backlog of surgeries and medical procedures and support health-care workers. Despite these important investments, there remains critical work to be done to support a strong and sustainable nursing workforce and health-care system.
“While CNA recognizes that the 2022 budget contains important steps in the right direction, it does not go far enough to address the problem that is Canada’s health workforce crisis,” said Sylvain Brousseau, president of CNA. “Canada is facing a severe health workforce crisis where nurses and other health-care workers are burned out, exhausted and considering leaving their jobs and even their professions.”
Canada’s nursing shortages directly impact the functioning and performance of its health-care system. The health workforce needs to be strengthened first in order to ramp up access to care to deliver better outcomes for patients. Nurses are the backbone of the health-care system and retaining them and other health-care workers is at the heart of fixing many of the health system’s challenges.
“Measures in the federal budget to address health-care worker shortages focused mostly on recruitment in the long-term, but we know that this crisis is multi-faceted and that the real issue is retention,” said Brousseau. “If no effective strategies are put in place to immediately retain nurses that we have now, no other strategy will make the difference. The federal government needs to collaborate with provinces and territories to deliver on strong and decisive actions through a pan-Canadian health human resources plan that addresses data, mental health, workloads, and retention strategies.”
“Finally, we were very pleased to see that the federal government has signaled that any conversations regarding federal health transfers will have a focus on delivering better health-care outcomes for people living in Canada,” said Brousseau. “CNA fully supports this approach as it is imperative that any federal dollars going into the health system are put into areas of need.”
CNA will continue to advocate for greater supports for nurses and other health-care workers and looks forward to continuing working collaboratively with the federal government and parliamentarians to deliver on key health priorities.
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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