(By Melissa Lopez-Martinez – CTV.ca – July 11, 2022) – Overworked and understaffed healthcare workers leaving their jobs over poor working conditions are becoming more alarming to health advocates, who are calling for federal help to address a Canada-wide nurses shortage.
“We have to fix the workplace in our healthcare system right now, it’s an urgent issue,” Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union (CFNU), told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.
The urgency for action has been long overdue, Silas says, as the Canadian medical field has been facing staffing shortages since before the pandemic that wasn’t addressed before COVID made matters worse.
“Now Canadians can’t get their surgeries, can’t get their specialized treatments, we have ERs closing across the country and the big reason is that we don’t have enough for nurses,” she said.
A survey conducted by the Canadian Union of Public Employees this year found that 87 per cent of 2,600 registered practical nurses in hospitals considered quitting their jobs after facing poor working conditions and abuse from patient’s families.
Understaffing has become an even bigger issue over the pandemic as many workers have been left feeling burnt out and unable to provide patients with quality care when they become overworked, Silas said.
“We cannot let 20 per cent of our workforce retire early. We cannot let one in two nurses leave, our system will completely collapse,” she said.
In June, Statistics Canada reported an all-time high of job vacancies within the health sector as 136,800 positions were reported in the first quarter of 2022; a nearly 91 per cent increase since the first quarter of 2020. Additionally, over 50 per cent of nurses claim their mental health has become worse compared to what it used to be before the pandemic.
Along with the CFNU, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is hoping to gain the attention of Canada’s premiers at the Council of the Federation meeting on Monday, highlighting their own recommendations to address the crisis including fast-tracking internationally educated nurses to work in hospitals and providing mental health support to current healthcare workers.
Silas, who will be attending the meeting, said in a statement on the federation’s website that Canada’s premiers will be gathering at a “critical” moment for the nation’s health care system.
“It’s time for federal, provincial and territorial governments to listen to frontline nurses and work with us on urgent solutions. We have no time to waste,” she said.
Pope Francis attends a community event near Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit on Friday afternoon. In his speech, the Pope asked forgiveness and referred to the ‘indignation and shame’ he felt about Canada’s residential schools. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
According to the report, among all workers who earned at least $5,000 in 2019, more Indigenous workers (39.2 per cent) than non-Indigenous workers (33.9 per cent) received CERB payments.
“So the evidence is there. You can see the way we are, our behaviours and how we walk through life, the struggles that we had, and the difficulties that we had — difficulties sometimes in learning, difficulties in relating to one another, difficulties in marriage, difficulties with alcohol.”
– Mabel Brown, residential school survivor
“We can forgive, but we’ll never forget what happened, and the pain, we’ll always carry the pain until the day we die.”
– Linda Daniels , residential schoolsurvivor
“We’re trying to find ways to combat diet-related diseases among the people. A lot of us are related to people who have diabetes, hypertension. We want to reach out to more of the people and say, ‘Come buy your food here. It’s right here, locally grown, and this is way better than what we have in the stores.’”
– Ciara Minjarez, educational outreach coordinator
The first signatories to the treaty — members of different nations in North America — put their names on the document in 2014 at the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, with the goal of allowing the free flow of the animals across the international border and restoring the spiritual and cultural connections between bison and Indigenous peoples.