For years, health-care associations, unions, economists and other experts have been sounding the alarm about health worker shortages, particularly in nursing. A stable and sufficient supply of health professionals continues to be one of Canada’s greatest health-care challenges. Shortages have produced long and frustrating wait times, adverse events for patients, and untenable working conditions for nurses and other health-care workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly exacerbated the ongoing nursing workforce crisis in Canada. Nurses are burned out, demoralized and exhausted as they care for patients and there is a worrying number of health-care workers leaving the profession. Excessive workloads and understaffing have pushed nurses and health workers past the breaking point. The lack of supports and increasing stress levels have forced nurses to retire early, switch to part-time employment, or leave their jobs or the profession altogether.
Furthermore, better data is needed to ensure the health workforce supply meets the population demand. Poor data means decisions around planning, staffing, deploying and recruiting and training continue to be made in the dark.