Topics discussed included how the federal government could enhance funding and support for health research and innovation in Canada and the need for a rethinking of older adult care across the country.
Ms. Lalonde, who was a social worker in organizations including the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital and a senior leader, then owner, of retirement homes in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans, called the meeting “informative” in a subsequent Twitter post.
Ms. Lalonde was also keenly interested in the issue of health workforce challenges across the country that have been exacerbated by more than two years of fighting waves of COVID-19.
“There are significant vacancies across the entire system due to exhaustion and burnout among healthcare workers, which is pushing people to retire early, switch to less demanding roles in the system, or leave it entirely,” Kristen Winter, Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre said during the meeting.
Hôpital Montfort President & CEO Bernard Leduc echoed these concerns. He pointed out that while workforce challenges have existed for years in Canada due to a lack of a pan-Canadian health workforce planning strategy and clear data, COVID – and Omicron particularly – pushed the situation to a critical point by causing widespread staff sick leaves.
HealthCareCAN, led by the work of its Health Human Resources Advisory Committee, has developed recommendations for short-, medium- and long-term action to help address health workforce challenges in Canada. In the short-term, HealthCareCAN is pressing the federal government to immediate action to:
- Better leverage immigration and international recruitment of healthcare workers to address existing shortages over the short- and medium-term.
- Provide greater supports to address factors that contribute to stress, anxiety and burnout among health care workers, and which make critical improvements to diversity, representation and equity in the health system.
- Support interprovincial/territorial coordination of education and licensing over the short and long term.
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