Home Health care provider Calls Grow for Maritime Governments to Address Health Care Staffing Shortages

Calls Grow for Maritime Governments to Address Health Care Staffing Shortages


FREDERICTON — Calls are mounting in the Maritimes for governments to tackle labor shortages in the health care sector, as hospitals are forced to close emergency rooms now that staff are tired takes a summer vacation to recover from the stress of the pandemic.

In New Brunswick, health care workers are leaving the province due to poor working conditions, uncompetitive wages and unreasonable workloads, according to Liberal Health Critic Jean-Claude D’Amours.

In Prince Edward Island, staffing shortages are so severe at Western Hospital in Alberton that its emergency department may be forced to close if someone is on sick leave, the door said. -Green Party Health Critic, Michele Beaton. Difficulties in recruiting and retaining health personnel have been rising in the province for years, she said.

“We need a very specific and strategic plan to ensure people working within the system are treated well,” Beaton said in a recent interview.

Last week, New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the province was recruiting traveling nurses and encouraging retired nurses to re-enter the workforce to cover vacations.

Since April 1, Horizon Health Network — operator of English-speaking hospitals in New Brunswick — has hired 11 retirees and about 180 nursing students to work this summer. Meanwhile, the Vitalité Health Network — operator of its French-language hospitals — has hired 200 nursing students.

“We recognize the workforce challenges in our health care system, and many long-term efforts are underway to improve the situation,” New Brunswick Labor Minister Trevor Holder said in a statement. communicated. “While we are making significant progress, it will take time to fully address these challenges.”

Staffing shortages have led to intermittent overnight closures of some hospital emergency departments. The Horizon Network tweeted on June 24, saying it was experiencing a severe staff shortage, and it warned that patients with non-emergency medical conditions could face long wait times.

The tweet sparked a reaction on Twitter.

“It’s been like this for years and it’s getting worse,” one person wrote. “I’m afraid that if my disease gets worse, I won’t survive.” Another person said the government should spend part of its budget surplus on improving working conditions in health centers.

Back in Prince Edward Island, Beaton said the western part of the province has “essentially no walk-in clinics, so people have no choice but to go to the emergency room”. When the ER closes, she said, “people are going to travel over an hour to get to the next facility to get the care they need.”

Health PEI spokeswoman Jessica Bruce said the small staff at Western Hospital are working hard to avoid unplanned service disruptions. “We continue to review various options to ensure patients receive the care they need,” she said.

In Nova Scotia, nurses across the province have demanded action to address chronic staffing shortages they say have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nova Scotia Nurses Union says there are approximately 1,400 vacancies for registered nurses and 250 open positions for licensed practical nurses.

Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative government pledged during the election campaign to spend heavily on the province’s ailing health care system. The $13.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2022-23, tabled in March, contains $5.7 billion for health care, an increase of $413.4 million over government spending. last year. But Premier Tim Houston warned residents not to expect any quick changes.

Dr. Mark MacMillan, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, said the growing number of vacancies in the health care field in Canada is concerning.

“We’ve seen this health human resources issue come our way for years,” he said in a recent interview. “COVID-19 has certainly exacerbated this problem and revealed how fragile the healthcare system is overall, not just in New Brunswick, but across the country. »

MacMillan said action by governments is needed now, but will require a long-term solution.

“In five, 10, 15 years, what will the demographics of patients be? What are the needs in this province? How many doctors do we need in northern New Brunswick, southern New Brunswick, east and west? do we need per unit? We need to be more proactive,” he said.

Health sector staff members are tired and need a break from the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“The last two and a half years have been very stressful and we really need to make sure these doctors and nurses get their time off for their own mental health,” he said.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 3, 2022.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press