Dr. Katharine Smart says there’s a feeling of hopelessness among health-care workers in the country that their governments are not listening to them as they try to manage the pandemic and feel there’s no end in sight.
She says people are tired of health-care being the “political hot potato” between the federal and provincial governments.
The doctors’ organization joined with the Canadian Nurses Association to hold an emergency summit Tuesday with health-care workers discussing how to move forward, as COVID-19 cases climb in parts of the country, pushing health systems to the brink.
Together, they called on governments to address staffing shortages across Canada and provide “immediate relief” to those working in COVID-19 hot zones.
Smart told a news conference Wednesday the Liberal government could provide a framework to provinces when it comes to responding to COVID-19 like it did for medical assistance in dying.
Canadian Nurses Association President Tim Guest also says the health-care sector is facing a “huge data gap” in knowing what resources are available for them, and what the workforce looks like across the country.
The organizations are also particularly concerned about growing surgical backlogs and the effect that will have on patients’ quality of life for the years to come.
The well-being of health workers is also top of mind, as they report feeling exhausted, demoralized and short-staffed for 18 months straight.
The CMA and other organizations are already working together to lobby the government to create a national health workforce agency to better plan for the future of health human resources, said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses.
The CFN wanted to see the summit continue to focus their advocacy on the health workers shortage, which has been exacerbated by exhausted nurses and other workers leaving the industry entirely.
Silas said nurses are feeling overstretched and overwhelmed and it’s affecting the level of care they can give their patients.
“The guilt is weighing on their shoulders so much and they feel heavy all the time because of not being able to do their job appropriately,” she said.
She said the summit was not only concerned with hospital issues like surgical backlogs and overcrowded ICU beds, but also on the impact the pandemic has had on long-term care and home care.