Ottawa – The Government of Canada recognizes the immense contributions health professionals made throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to make every day. The Government shares the concerns raised by health workers on the state of the health care system, including the impacts that the health workforce crisis is having on their patients’ ability to receive quality care when and where they need it. Health workers are the backbone of the health system, and the health workforce is in crisis.
Over the last two and a half years, Canada’s health workers, including those working in public health, have been challenged like never before. This has led to unprecedented levels of burnout, absences, and turnover. These workforce challenges are in turn affecting patients who are experiencing long wait times for surgeries, emergency room closures, and difficulty accessing family health services.
We have heard stories of cancer patients having their surgeries delayed because hospitals do not have the time, space, or in most cases the staff, to provide timely care. These delays lead to more complex and invasive treatments, worse outcomes and further disrupts patient’s lives. That is why this past March we outlined our vision for improving health care by:
- Reducing backlogs and supporting our health care workers;
- Enhancing access to family health services;
- Improving mental health and substance use services;
- Helping Canadians age with dignity, closer to home; and
- Using health data and digital health more effectively.
The Government of Canada remains committed to protecting and strengthening the publicly funded health care system, and continuing to work with provincial and territorial governments to do so. Provinces and territories are taking actions to increase health care training capacity, accelerate the integration of internationally educated health professionals, and improve workplace conditions. We are committed to working collaboratively with provinces and territories to drive pan-Canadian approaches to support health workers.
Today, the Government held the first meeting of a Coalition for Action for Health Workers. This group’s advice will inform immediate and longer-term solutions to address significant health workforce challenges, so that all Canadians can access the quality care they need and deserve.
The Coalition will be comprised of representatives from key groups, including nurses, doctors, personal support workers, unions, colleges and universities, public health, patients, Indigenous peoples and equity-deserving communities.
Skilled and supported health workers are key to ensuring quality health care, which is why the Coalition’s initial priorities will include providing advice on workers’ retention so health workers continue to stay in their jobs; increasing the supply of health professionals in the country; improving health workforce data; and opportunities to scale new models of care to address key barriers.
“Canadians expect us to work collaboratively to urgently address the health worker crisis to strengthen the universal publicly funded health care system that we all cherish as Canadians. As we continue our work with provinces and territories, the Coalition will help support moving forward on concrete actions so we can get clear outcomes for Canadians, their families and for our health workers by ensuring they get the care they need and deserve.” – Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health