Health professionals seek action on national HR shortages

Ottawa (8 May 2008) ... Representatives of the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat (CHPS) gathered in Ottawa recently to assess public policy and labour relations developments over the last six months and to map the course ahead for Canadas health professionals.

Among the issues covered during the May 1-2 meeting was an overriding concern about the significant and growing shortage of health professionals across the country and the need for a long-term national health human resources strategy.

-Canadians expect timely and quality health care services, but those expectations will never be met unless governments address the severe shortages of health professionals," says CHPS co-chair Elisabeth Ballermann.

"Whatever else governments try to do in health care, unless there is a long-term national strategy to ensure a stable and adequate supply of skilled health professionals, they will not resolve the problems," adds Ballermann.

Representatives at the CHPS meeting heard a presentation from Mr. Kurt Davis, the Executive Director of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS). The CSMLS is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants and the national professional association for Canadas medical laboratory professionals.

The CSMLS estimates that over half of Canadas medical laboratory technologists will be eligible to retire by 2016. Davis pointed out that a shortage of qualified medical laboratory professionals will have a serious negative impact on patient care in Canada. Up to 85 per cent of decisions about diagnosis and treatment are based on results of tests performed by medical laboratory technologists.

CHPS representatives also had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Atul Kapur, a member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, a national organization that provides a voice for Canadian doctors who support Canadas publicly funded health care system and reject private insurance and direct payment for health services.

Other key items discussed at the meeting included:

● Recent discussions with members of Parliament to raise awareness about the important role that CHPS members play in the health care system.
● A presentation by CHPS to the House of Commons Health Committee, which is reviewing the intergovernmental 10-year plan to strengthen health care.
● Collective bargaining trends, including strategies to deal with market supplements.
● A submission by CHPS to the newly created Mental Health Commission of Canada. 

The CHPS is a national advocacy body that represents 70,000 unionized health professionals who deliver the diagnostic, clinical, rehabilitation and preventative services that are essential to timely and quality health care. Some of the highly trained professionals represented by CHPS include medical laboratory technologists, physiotherapists, social workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists, dietitians and psychologists. These professionals work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, mental health services, laboratories, home care services and public health agencies. NUPGE

More information:
● Mike Luff, CHPS co-chair (613) 228-9800