Health workforce

Learn about the actions being taken to address health workforce needs.

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Information on the statement of need required from medical graduates pursuing postgraduate medical training in the US can be found here.

Health workers

Health workers provide treatment, services and advice. Health workers can include:

  • dentists and dental hygienists
  • dietitians
  • massage, occupational, and physical therapists
  • nurses
  • orderlies
  • optometrists
  • paramedics
  • personal support workers
  • midwives
  • pharmacists
  • physicians
  • psychologists, and more

They are important to ensuring our health and well-being.

Many health workers see us at our most vulnerable. They provide not only care, but compassion.

Canada's health workforce is currently facing challenges in the supply of health workers, low retention and workplace conditions that put additional pressure on workers. High patient workloads, fewer workers and fear for personal safety have led to unprecedented levels of burnout, absences and turnover.

The federal government provides financial support to the provinces and territories for health care services. However, the responsibility for managing health workforces falls within provincial and territorial jurisdictions.

What we're doing to support Canada's health workforce

Current challenges within the health workforce require collaborative solutions.

Health Canada, along with other federal departments, is taking an active role in this matter. Together, we're working with provincial and territorial governments and key health stakeholders to identify immediate and long-term solutions to address health workforce needs.

The Government of Canada has already taken steps to address key concerns voiced by health care providers.

For example, Health Canada:

  • convened a stakeholder symposium in spring 2022 to better understand the challenges facing the health workforce
    • the summary report identifies potential areas for action and possible solutions to health workforce challenges, which Health Canada is engaging with stakeholders to refine and align actions.
  • announced on August 23, 2022, that it had appointed Dr. Leigh Chapman as the federal Chief Nursing Officer for Canada, who will:
    • look at nursing issues from a federal focus
    • provide strategic advice from a nursing perspective to Health Canada on priority policy and program areas and work closely with provinces and territories, stakeholders and regulatory bodies
  • established a Coalition for Action for Health Workers which will inform immediate and longer-term solutions to address significant health workforce challenges, so Canadians can access the quality care they need and deserve

Through Budget 2022, the Government of Canada 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. The list of eligible professionals under the loan forgiveness program was also expanded to help bring more health workers to communities that need them most.

Through the budget the federal government is also able to:

  • provide another $140 million over two years to the Wellness Together Canada (WTC) portal, which offers free, confidential mental health and substance supports to all Canadians, including tools for frontline health workers
    • Canadians and health workers can also access these online services through PocketWell, the WTC companion app
  • provide $115 million over five years, with $30 million ongoing, to expand the Foreign Credential Recognition Program, which will:
    • help up to 11,000 internationally trained health care professionals per year get their credentials recognized and find work in their field
    • support projects (such as standardized national exams, easier access to information, faster timelines and less red tape) that will reduce barriers to foreign credential recognition for health care professionals
  • help reduce barriers to internal trade and labour mobility, such as in the health sector, by working with provincial and territorial governments and regulators to evaluate and, where appropriate, remove obstacles

The federal government also provided a $2 billion top-up to the Canada Health Transfer, to the provinces and territories, to reduce backlogs caused by COVID-19. This will help support the health and well-being of Canadians and those on the frontlines of our health care system.

This investment supplements the $4 billion invested in 2021 to help provinces and territories address immediate health care system pressures. This money is distributed equally per capita through the Canada Health Transfer.

In 2021, the federal government also:

  • amended the Criminal Code (under the former Bill C-3) to ensure health workers are safe and free from threats, violence and harassment
  • provided $100 million over three years, through Budget 2021, to support the mental health of Canadians who have been most affected by COVID-19 and an additional $50 million to help those experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the pandemic, including frontline and essential service providers. announced additional funding through Budget 2021 for Employment and Social Development Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program
    • program helps key sectors of the economy, including health, implement solutions to address workforce needs, such as labour shortages

Canada and the provinces and territories also collaborate on health workforce issues through the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Committee on Health Workforce.

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