Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, issued the following statement after attending a meeting of the Coalition for Action for Health Workers:
“Canada’s health workers are the backbone of our health care system, yet they continue to experience unprecedented challenges. 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, as well as higher rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health challenges. 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 share the concerns raised by health workers across the country on the state of our health care system. We know that without a sustainable, efficient, and resilient health workforce, Canadians cannot access and receive the quality care they need, when and where they need it.
This past November, we established the Coalition for Action for Health Workers to inform immediate and longer-term solutions to address significant health care workers’ challenges. Coalition members’ lived experiences and firsthand knowledge of the challenges they face allows them to provide practical input, and ideas on concrete actions that all levels of government can implement to create tangible improvements that will lead to better health outcomes for patients across the country.
The Coalition has met multiple times over the past few months and identified critical elements to addressing the current health workers crisis including: retention efforts to support health workers currently caring for Canadians; recruitment to develop the future health care workforce; better data to allow for improved and long-term health workers planning; and health system transformation and innovation, especially team-based care. Key actions must also include supporting changes to enable health workers to work anywhere in Canada and recognizing the skills of educated health professionals to help them quickly put their skills and experience to work here in Canada.
The Coalitions’ expertise is also invaluable in advancing high-impact policy actions, specifically in the following areas:
- Advancing labour mobility, starting with multi-jurisdictional credential recognition for key health professionals;
- Streamlining foreign credential recognition for Internationally Educated Health Professionals;
- Establishing a Centre of Excellence on Health Workforce Data and Planning;
- Prioritizing retention of the health workforce, including wellness, inclusion and equity;
- Expansion of education and training capacity to ensure a sustainable domestic health workforce, in order to meet the populations’ evolving health needs with a focus on practical solutions; and
- Health system transformation through innovation to support health workers and improve care for Canadians (e.g., scopes of practice, models of care, team-based care)
On February 7, 2023, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $198.6 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding for provinces and territories, to improve health care services for Canadians. Supporting the health workforce is one of four shared priorities to be addressed with this funding, together with expanding access to family health services, modernizing the health care system, and improving access to quality mental health and substance use services. As part of this commitment, federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to work alongside key partners to streamline foreign credential recognition for internationally educated health professionals, and to advance labour mobility, starting with multi-jurisdictional credential recognition for key health professionals so they can more easily work across different provinces and territories.
Collaborative work is also underway with provinces and territories to help support access to home care and long-term care. This includes existing investments of $6 billion for home and community care and $4 billion to improve the quality and safety of long-term care. Helping Canadians age with dignity, closer to home, with access to home care or care in a safe long-term care facility is another area of priority.
We also announced $505 million over five years to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada Health Infoway, and federal data partners. These organizations will work with provinces and territories on developing new health data indicators on the workforce and addressing data gaps; supporting the creation of a Centre of Excellence on health worker data and planning; and working with partners to ensure Canadians and their health providers have access to essential health information to improve the safety and quality of their care.
We look forward to further insights and advice provided by the Coalition and remain committed to working with provincial and territorial governments and health partners to strengthen health care in Canada. We know the Coalitions’ expertise and its vast network will continue to be essential to drive the implementation of action on critical priorities so that Canadians can receive the timely, high-quality care they need and deserve, including when it comes to mental health and substance use.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.