Canada’s response to nursing shortage lacks urgency and co-ordination

January 12, 2023

It’s hard to assess how well Canada is faring in the cutthroat, global competition to attract nurses, who are essential to sustaining a health-care system that was already threadbare and battered before COVID-19.

The pandemic not only focused attention on the nursing shortage, it hastened the retirement of thousands fed up with the increased demands. It had cascading effects on those who remained on the job, not least of which was longer hours in evermore demanding situations.

Because of shortages, a quarter of all Canadian nurses routinely worked overtime. In British Columbia, nurses averaged more than three hours of overtime a week. That’s more than in any other province or territory.

In the last five years, British Columbia has moved from last in Canada in terms of nurses per capita to first. Not that it matters, as Health Minister Adrian Dix himself noted this week.

What matters is that there is still a desperate shortage. The B.C. Nurses’ Union has 68,000 members, but there are currently 5,200 jobs with no one to fill them. By 2031, British Columbia will need 26,000 new nurses.

Source: Vancouver Sun