Health Canada announces Coalition for Action for Health Workers
November 1, 2022 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada
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.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
"From coast to coast to coast health workers are working night and day to keep our communities safe and healthy. They work in stressful conditions often dealing with life and death and sometimes risking their own safety to help us. They deserve our endless gratitude and support. This Coalition will help determine how we can support them to do the job they want to be able to do, with the appropriate training and educational interventions in order to address the urgent mental health and substance use care needs of health workers now, and into the future."
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health
“Seniors across Canada need and deserve a healthcare system that provides quality care when they need it, where they need it. As a Registered Nurse who has worked on the frontlines in a hospital and volunteered in a long-term care home during the height of the pandemic, I have seen first hand the challenges faced by patients, healthcare workers and our healthcare system. The Coalition will help us address the health workers crisis and improve supports for doctors, nurses and PSWs who sacrifice so much to support the health and well-being of Canadians. Our government remains committed to protecting and strengthening our healthcare system through long-term solutions.”
The Honourable Kamal Khera
Minister of Seniors
In addition to the establishment of the Coalition for Action, the Government of Canada is taking a leadership role to address the health workforce crisis and is moving forward with other actions, including:
- On September 23, 2022, the federal government announced that it would introduce measures to facilitate the entry of foreign national physicians as permanent residents through Canada’s federal economic immigration programs managed through the Express Entry system;
- On August 23, 2022, Health Canada announced that it had appointed Dr. Leigh Chapman as Chief Nursing Officer;
- Budget 2022 announced $26.2 million in funding to increase the forgivable amount of student loans for doctors and nurses who practise in rural and remote communities;
- Budget 2022 provided an additional $140 million over two years to the Wellness Together Canada portal, which offers free, confidential mental health and substance use tools and services for all Canadians, including tools for frontline health care workers;
- Budget 2022 provided $115 million over five years, with $30 million ongoing, to expand the Foreign Credential Recognition Program and help up to 11,000 internationally trained health care professionals per year get their credentials recognized and find work in their field. It will also support projects that will reduce barriers to foreign credential recognition for health care professionals;
- A $2 billion top-up to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) was provided to the provinces and territories, to reduce backlogs caused by COVID-19. This investment supplements the Budget 2021 investment of $4 billion through the CHT, distributed equally per capita, to help provinces and territories address immediate health care system pressures;
- In December 2021, amendments were made to the Criminal Code (under the former Bill C-3), to ensure health care workers are safe and free from threats, violence and harassment; and,
- Budget 2021 provided $100 million over three years to support the mental health of Canadians who have been most affected by COVID-19 and an additional $50 million to help those experiencing PTSD due to the pandemic, including frontline and essential service providers.
- Budget 2021 announced funding for Employment and Social Development Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program, which aims to support key sectors of the economy, including health, to implement solutions to address workforce needs, such as labour shortages.
- Backgrounder - Coalition for Action for Health Workers
- Government of Canada announces Chief Nursing Officer for Canada
- Federal Budget 2022 - Chapter 6: Strong Public Health Care
- Canada commits $2 billion in additional health care funding to clear backlogs and support hundreds of thousands of additional surgeries
- Legislation to provide ten days of paid sick leave and enhance protections for health care workers receives Royal Assent
- Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience
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