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Hospital staffing strain ‘unprecedented,’ could peak soon: Ontario Health exec

Written by on August 5, 2022

TORONTO — An executive at the provincial agency overseeing Ontario’s hospitals says the system is experiencing staffing strain at “unprecedented” levels, but the situation may improve in the coming weeks.

Dr. Chris Simpson, executive vice-president at Ontario Health, says the staffing crunch is affecting hospitals of all sizes across the province with unprecedented persistence and severity. 

Ontario Health says 10 hospitals have had to temporarily close emergency departments since June due to lack of nursing services.

Simpson says workers have been leaving the field due to burnout and retirements, and COVID-19-related absences have significantly affected operations. 

He says the staffing shortages may peak in the coming weeks as the current wave of COVID-19 recedes but there may be future challenges in the fall, and solutions to quickly bring in more workers are being discussed.

Unions representing hospital workers called on the province today to provide more safety and mental health supports for staff and give more financial incentives to help with retention and hiring. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2022.

The Canadian Press