July 7, 2022 — In anticipation of the upcoming Council of the Federation summer meeting, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) has sent a letter to all premiers urging them to prioritize and take action to address the dire health human resources crisis and nursing shortages across the country.
“We are seeing patients in Canada facing longer and longer wait times for medical and surgical procedures, while also facing increasing challenges to access the care they need,” said Sylvain Brousseau, president of CNA. “Just over these past few weeks, we have witnessed many stories of emergency departments shutting down or reducing their hours of operation in many parts of the country. The reason for this crisis is very clear: Canada is facing a severe health workforce crisis and nursing shortages.”
As premiers meet next week, CNA is urging provincial and territorial governments to work together, including with the federal government, to address this emergency and avoid the collapse of Canada’s health-care system.
“Canada needs to ramp up its health-care system to deliver better outcomes for patients and ensure they can receive the care they need when they need it,” said Brousseau. “However, the sustainability of the system will not be achieved if Canada does not strengthen and invest in its health workforce first.”
For over two years, nurses and health-care providers have shouldered the enormous burden of the pandemic. Excessive workloads, chronic burnout and understaffing have pushed nurses and health-care workers past the breaking point. They are retiring early, switching to part-time employment or leaving their jobs or their profession altogether.
To help address Canada’s health workforce crisis and nursing shortages to deliver better outcomes for patients, CNA recommends that all levels of government work collaboratively to
- create a pan-Canadian health workforce strategy that includes addressing data and mobility gaps;
- implement evidence-based, sustainable, and innovative retention strategies for nurses and health-care workers immediately;
- optimize workloads and working conditions for nurses and health-care workers, including strategies related to avoiding excessive overtime and unreasonable shifts and optimizing scopes of practice;
- create a pan-Canadian mental health strategy for nurses and health-care workers;
- increase system capacity for education of nurses and health-care workers; and
- fast-track the licensing and employment of internationally educated nurses and health-care workers, as well as providing them with mentoring programs.
Canada’s premiers will meet in Victoria, British Columbia, on July 11 and 12.
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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