Ontario needs to recruit nurses in order to cope with the pandemic. Since some other Canadian provinces and territories – including New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon – are also facing a shortage of nurses, it is difficult to recruit nurses from these parts of Canada. Since 2016, only the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, and Prince Edward Island have seen an increase in the number of nurses relative to the local adult population.
Ontario PNP has appealed to other provinces and territories to send their nurses to Ontario, in order to tackle the surge of COVID-19 cases. Vacancies for nurses have been increasing across Canada for a long period of time. Pre-pandemic, the vacancies existed in specialty areas like long-term care homes, operating rooms, ICUs, emergency departments, or in remote communities. Several reasons have caused the rise in vacancies.
Nurses are a mobile workforce and have other options, many are approaching the age of retirement, and many Canadian nurses are recruited by the USA. In recent months, the shortage of nurses in Ontario has become more urgent, since the province plans to increase its healthcare capacity and nurses are the primary workers in ICUs.
Possible solutions include freeing up critical care nurses by reducing elective surgeries, or nurses from the Canadian Armed Forces being deployed to support Ontario. Over the next 4 months, there will be a shortage of 4,145 nurses in Ontario’s hospital sector. This shortage indicates that Canada is experiencing a lack of qualified healthcare workers. In the coming months and years, it is possible that registered nurses may be recruited from other countries through Canada’s numerous immigration programs.
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