Hospitals across Canada are scrambling to fill tens of thousands of nursing job vacancies in the middle of a global pandemic which has continues to have a negative impact on the local healthcare system.
Statistics Canada reports indicated that while more than 19,000 jobs were added to the healthcare and social assistance industries in the first month of 2021, it was a mere fraction of 112,000 jobs that are being left vacant, the largest in any sector.
Postings for nursing jobs are up almost 50% compared to the same month last year, according to online job site Indeed.
The healthcare industry is rushing to fill the nursing job vacancies, with Canadian hospitals struggling to meet their staffing needs on limited budgets.
“For years, we have been at the provincial and the federal government, talking to them, trying to get them to pay attention to the looming nursing shortage,” Vicki McKenna, Ontario Nurses’ Association president, spoke with the Globe and Mail. “It’s not just an Ontario-made, or Canadian-made problem. It’s an international problem.”
Most of the nursing job vacancies require specialized training.
“Lots of nurses aspire to work in the hospitals. But the jobs, generally speaking in a normal world, are few and far between,” Louisa Benedicto, Hays Specialist Recruitment Canada Vice President spoke with the Globe and Mail. “Now those jobs are in abundance, but we’re hit with the issue of: ‘We need people that can do the job tomorrow.’ ”
Hospitals are also having to contend with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, having to fill positions left vacant by nurses who are falling ill and taking time off to quarantine.
Canada is also having to compete for skilled nurses with other countries, making it more difficult to fill existing nursing job vacancies. Countries like the United States are even hiring graduates from Canada, offering them more money and even willing to provide additional training.
The need to fill nursing job vacancies are particularly acute in Northern Canada, where nurses serve as primary healthcare providers for Indigenous communities that do not have full-time doctors available.
“We’re basically asking these nurses to be anything and everything to people and we’ve watched these systems get busier and busier,” he said. Dr. Ben Langer, a family physician from Sioux Lookout, spoke with the Globe and Mail.
“I’m worried about the pandemic and what it is doing to the health-care workforce overall,” McKenna told the Globe and Mail. “But particularly to nurses and how they’re going to fare coming out of this, and then what our future looks like.”
A recent Statistics Canada report indicated that 2/3 of the healthcare professionals who responded to a survey said that their mental health had declined during the pandemic, sparking fears that the current nursing shortage in Canada will only get worse with many nurses expected to retire as a result of the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
SOURCE: THE GLOBE AND MAIL
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