Health care: CMA head pushes national staff tracking system

A national tracking system for health-care workers — with information on what training they have, where they’re located and what their career plans are — would make a “significant difference” in addressing future staffing challenges, the president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) says.

Speaking to CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday, Dr. Katharine Smart said the health-care system is facing a serious human resources “crisis,” which she says is largely due to a lack of planning.

With much staffing data siloed across the country, Smart said having a national “lens” on who is needed in the system, and where, would help in future planning.

“Part of the reason we are where we are today is we have not planned well, and now all of a sudden we’re caught with no redundancy in the system,” she said.

This lack of planning, along with “huge attrition” among nurses and physicians, has created a “distressing workplace environment for people,” Smart added

The CMA included the idea of ​​a national health human resource strategy as part of a series of proposed solutions, released Wednesday, to address the current health-care “crisis.”

The proposals from the CMA come as the latest job numbers from Statistics Canada, released on Aug. 5, show the number of people working in health care and social assistance declined for the second straight month in July, falling by 22,000. However, employment in the industry changed little compared to the same month last year.

There were also 143,400 job vacancies in health care and social assistance in May, up 20 per cent from May 2021, according to StatCan.

While some provinces have recently announced efforts to try and bring more health-care staff into the system, including internationally trained nurses, Smart said another challenge is trying to retain people who are often working in poor conditions.

“So I think if we don’t get serious about understanding and addressing the health human resource crisis, we’re going to continue to see a deterioration of the quality of care in our country and we’re going to continue to lose people from the system, and that’s not something that we can afford to have happen,” she said.

Watch the full interview with Dr. Katharine Smart at the top of the article. With files from The Canadian Press.