FEDERAL NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Jenny Kwan, on Thursday joined internationally educated nurses in urging the Liberal government to take immediate action to address the nursing shortage.
Following grueling months of the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline health care workers have been working to exhaustion which has been made even worse by the staffing shortages across the country, they noted.
The NDP called for increases to the health care transfers the provinces receive and for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to grant permanent residence to qualified health care workers to get more nurses helping Canadians.
“Nurses are burnt out after everything they have gone through during this pandemic, and the nursing shortage is really hurting their wellbeing,” said Singh, “This shortage is the result of the Liberal government maintaining Harper-era cuts to the transfers the federal government gives the provinces and territories. It’s not right. People have suffered enough over the last 20 months, and with experts warning of a fifth wave and the potential for more medical emergencies, we need more nurses to help keep us safe and healthy. It’s time for the government to do the right thing and to keep their promises by increasing health funding to provinces to help them address these shortages.”
The NDP said the nursing shortage is also due to massive backlogs and extensive delays in the processing of permanent resident applications in IRCC. There are qualified internationally educated nurses in Canada, some of whom have already passed their Canadian licensing exams, who are unable to work because of these delays. The NDP called on the government to immediately issue a Bridging Open Work Permit to those who are stuck waiting for their Permanent Residency (PR), and to create a simplified immigration measure to grant PR status to health care workers who meet nursing qualifications.
“Nurses are overworked and it is hurting them and their patients. When hospitals don’t have enough nurses, wait times increase and surgeries get delayed,” said Kwan. “Meanwhile, there are qualified internationally educated nurses waiting for their applications to be processed. The Liberals need to recognize that they can fix this crisis, rather than being a roadblock. We are demanding that the government adequately fund IRCC so that qualified health care workers can be granted permanent residence.”