On March 6, 2023, the Standing Committee on Health’s (HESA) long-awaited report on addressing Canada’s health workforce crisis was tabled in the House of Commons.
HealthCareCAN is encouraged to see many of the recommendations HealthCareCAN’s President and CEO, Paul-Émile Cloutier, and Elaine Watson, Executive Director, Health Workforce Strategies at Alberta Health Services (then Chief Human Resources Officer at Covenant Health) presented to the Committee during their February 16, 2022 appearance. These recommendations include:
- Collaboration between levels of governments, in consultation with organizations involved in recruiting internationally trained health workers, as well as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) where necessary, to streamline and simplify the process to recruit from countries known to train health workers in excess of their domestic needs.
- Collaboration between levels of governments to provide more residency positions for international medical graduates.
- Cooperation between levels of governments and professional regulatory bodies to improve upon and expand pathways to licensure for international physicians who have already completed their residency and who practiced abroad, such as the National Assessment Collaboration’s (NAC) Practice-Ready Assessment (PRA) program and other similar initiatives.
- Support expedited pathways to licensure and practice for internationally trained healthcare professionals.
- Collaboration between levels of government and professional regulatory bodies to establish pan-Canadian licensure for health professionals.
- Cooperation between levels of government and Indigenous Peoples to continue the federal government’s work in developing a Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy to improve Canada’s collection, access, sharing and use of health workforce data and lay the foundation for a world-class health data system.
- Collaboration between levels of government to create and implement a Pan-Canadian Health Human Resource Strategy to facilitate better identification of gaps in the healthcare workforce and more efficient action to address those gaps.
- Collaboration between levels of government to expand access to long-term care beds, home care services, and palliative care.
- Cooperation between levels of government as well as Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders to expand digital infrastructure, and other system improvements, to increase access to high quality, safe virtual care, where appropriate.
- The federal government work with provincial and territorial governments, and/or utilize powers within its purview, to create incentives for healthcare workers to encourage the retention, and return, of healthcare workers to help address the workforce crisis.
- Cooperation between levels of government to provide incentives to attract more physicians into family care and retain them.
- Collaboration between levels of government to develop strategies to recruit, train, and adequately support, healthcare workers for rural, remote, and northern communities.
- Cooperation between all levels of government to implement a Pan-Canadian Mental Health Strategy for healthcare workers.
“HealthCareCAN welcomes the Committee’s report and recommendations, which align closely with the actions we and our members have been urging the federal government to implement to help address serious health workforce challenges across the country,” said Paul-Émile Cloutier, President and CEO of HealthCareCAN. “With two Commons committee reports echoing our health workforce concerns released within the last month, it is crucial that governments work together to immediately follow through on these recommendations to bolster our health workforce and enhance patient care.”
The report outlines 20 recommendations on a range of health workforce challenges in Canda, including issues with the immigration and licensing processes; the necessity of attracting and retaining more healthcare workers, especially in primary care, and rural, remote and northern communities; and the need for better pan-Canadian health workforce data gathering, analysis, and planning to develop a world-class health workforce data system and pan-Canadian health human resources strategy.
The Committee also endorses recommendations to improve working conditions for healthcare workers, including by leveraging digital health, virtual care, team-based models of care, and other innovations; and implementing a pan-Canadian mental health strategy for healthcare workers.
“The Committee’s report highlights the breadth of challenges the health sector is navigating when it comes to the health workforce in Canada,” notes Elaine Watson, Executive Director, Health Workforce Strategies at Alberta Health Services, and past co-chair of HealthCareCAN’s Health Human Resources Advisory Committee. “At the same time, the solutions included in the report very much reflect the views expressed by the members of the Health Human Resources Advisory Committee, so we are eager to advance our work with the federal government in implementing these recommendations.”
HealthCareCAN eagerly awaits the federal government’s response to the report and will be following up with members of Parliament and government officials to push for the immediate implementation of the Committee’s recommendations.