While governments talk, patients face endless waits and health workers are burning out

January 18, 2024

OTTAWA – A triple-demic of flu, RSV and COVID has left patients facing some of the worst wait times ever for emergency care, while health workers experience appalling working conditions. Time is running out to address this crisis, warned President of the Canadians Labour Congress Bea Bruske.  

“We’ve seen too many health care horror stories. A sick newborn waiting over eight hours to be admitted, a senior more than 12 hours to be seen by an ER doctor. A year after historic health agreements, patients still aren’t getting the timely care they deserve while health workers continue to face unsafe working conditions and growing burnout,” cautioned Bruske. “Without concrete action to repair it, we’ll see another year of Canada’s health care system failing our children, seniors, and seriously ill patients of all kinds.”  

Led by B.C., only four provinces have signed new bilateral deals. With a March 31st deadline fast approaching so new investments can flow this year, Bruske cautioned that governments must act quickly to get deals done so provinces can implement effective new measures.  

“Canadians are looking for real relief, which means new bilateral deals must also include strict conditions that cap wasteful spending on private agencies and dramatically increase the number of permanent nursing positions,” added Bruske. “A photo-op has never cured anyone. Workers and families are looking to the federal government to defend patient care and protect our public health care from provinces trying to use the crisis to line the pockets of private investors with wasteful health care privatization.”   

Bruske urged governments and parties to come together behind solutions backed by new investments to address this national crisis.  

“The NDP–Liberal Supply and Confidence Agreement brought us a new dental care program, which will alleviate pressure on emergency rooms. This is the kind of innovative progress Canadians are looking for, yet Poilievre’s Conservatives voted against dental care for low-income kids and seniors,” concluded Bruske. “The last time Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives were in power, they unilaterally cut billions from provincial health care funding. They dug a big hole for our health care system and more Conservative cuts now would put Canada’s universal public health care at risk.”  

The Canadian Labour Congress is the largest labour organization in Canada, bringing together dozens of national and international unions, provincial and territorial federations of labour and community-based labour councils to represent more than 3 million workers across the country.

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