Canadians have a labor problem. There are 848,000 job vacancies, according to a recent government report. The sector that is particularly affected by staff shortages is the health sector and, more specifically, nursing. It’s a very sensitive area and the consequences of a shortage of workers are outraging the public: emergency rooms closed on weekends in Winnipeg, patients in Montreal hospitals irked by delays in care, a slow ambulance system…
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Canadians have a labor problem. There are 848,000 job vacancies, according to a recent government report. The sector that is particularly affected by staff shortages is the health sector and, more specifically, nursing. It’s a very sensitive area and the consequences of a shortage of workers chafe the public: emergency rooms shut down on weekends in Winnipeg, patients in Montreal hospitals irked by delays in care, or the ambulance system sluggish in Ottawa because many vehicles must queue to wait for someone to receive. Their patients are just some of the deadliest examples.
It is common practice for male and female nurses to be required to do mandatory overtime. They also have a large number of patients under their care. Stress and anxiety are very high. We are afraid of making a mistake with the people in our care,” one such worker from British Columbia wrote on her social networks. In addition, some provincial governments flatly refuse to raise wages. In Ontario, the most populous province in the country, it has not stopped The nurses are protesting against a law – passed in 2019 – that limits salary increases to 1% per year for public sector workers.
It is therefore not surprising that many nurses throw in the towel or seek shelter in less dangerous environments (for example, in private clinics); Others think twice before entering the public network for the first time. A 2022 report by the Canadian Confederation of Nurses found “a 219.8% increase in nursing vacancies since 2017”. Various regional governments have launched initiatives to try to reduce the problem. Scholarships and sharper matchmaking between staff and hospital officials are part of these tools. Also programs to recruit nurses in other latitudes. However, this last measure is not without criticism. Some experts decry that recruitment efforts in Southeast Asia and West Africa may weaken the health systems of less developed countries.
An essential component of reducing this shortage is improving working conditions, particularly by increasing wages and reducing workloads (eg, abolishing mandatory overtime). In February, provincial premiers met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss federal transfers to healthcare. The provinces currently cover 78% of the budget and Ottawa covers the remaining 22%. Trudeau offered about 31.7 billion euros for the next 10 years. The provincial premiers, with no real room for negotiation, reluctantly agreed to the proposal. Canadian health care – recognized worldwide for its public, free and universal nature – faces daunting challenges. The shortage of male and female nurses is one of the most serious issues, but the modernization of facilities and appointment of doctors is also urgent.
And as if that weren’t enough, there is an x in select tests. In September 2022, only 51.4% of people who took the Quebec Nursing Application Examination for the first time passed. In March of the same year, the rate reached 71%, while in September 2021 it reached 81%. An investigation has been launched to find out what is happening.
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