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CNA calls for swift and immediate action to slow the third wave of COVID-19

April 16, 2021 – Canada is living with a third wave of COVID-19 that is proving to be more dangerous than the first two. Hospitalizations are rising steadily in many provinces, and intensive care units (ICUs) and their staff are already at or beyond their capacity. The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is calling for an immediate and collaborative national approach to address the COVID-19 emergencies happening in several provinces.

“One of the challenges is that even pre-pandemic, our ICUs did not have adequate surge capacity, so now with the spike in cases we are starting to feel the impacts of our limited physical and human resources,” said Tim Guest, president of CNA. “Unfortunately, simply adding more beds and ventilators will not solve this issue as ICUs require highly specialized nurses and health-care professionals — who were already stretched thin before COVID-19 and are now displaying significant signs of burnout and fatigue,” said Guest.

CNA recognizes that to provide care for everyone who needs it, more capacity must be added to ICUs, however it is not as simple as bringing nurses from other specialties to critical care. “To safely care for patients, we need more trained critical care staff,” said Michael Villeneuve, chief executive officer of CNA. “To ensure the safety of patients and our health-care workforce across the country, federal, provincial and territorial governments must immediately work together with employers to manage resources and deploy health-care professionals to support the hardest hit areas. We may need to make some tough and urgent decisions to put more human resources in place, and no reasonable option should be off the table,” said Villeneuve.

Given the dire situation hospitals are facing in some places across the country, the federal, provincial and territorial governments should work together to authorize the Canadian Armed Forces to assist hospitals that have reached capacity, both to support critical care settings and also to provide additional health-care and logistics support as needed. Similar to the situation last spring in Ontario and Quebec, when the Forces were called in to mitigate the crisis in long-term care homes, there are nurses within the Forces quite capable of shoring up some of the gaps in critical care.

While there is an immediate need to deploy more nurses to deal with the volume of COVID-19 cases ending up in ICUs, the only true solutions to eliminating this deadly virus from our society are adherence to strict public health measures and rapid rollout and uptake of vaccines. “We need to continue putting considerable resources towards Canada’s vaccine rollout. Marginalized populations are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, so we must ramp up targeted immunizations to protect these populations and slow down the spread of this virus,” said Guest.

CNA is open to working with all governments to help find collaborative solutions to address the immediate crisis.


About the Canadian Nurses Association
The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing. We represent registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed and registered practical nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and retired nurses across all 13 provinces and territories.

For more information, please contact:
Eve Johnston
Media and Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
Cell: 613-282-7859
Email: ejohnston@cna-aiic.ca