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This series is a deep dive into the lives and working conditions of health-care professionals

across Canada.
It includes a feature story and six profiles that explore the challenges, triumphs and priorities not only of our the health-care system as a whole, but of the workers who support it.

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Staff shortages. Burnout. Unfair pay. The working conditions behind our crisis in health care

By Wendy Glauser

Profiles by Maddi Dellplain, Sahil Gupta, Nicole Naimer and Maria Raveendran

 

Emergency departments are closing across the country. Wait times in those still open frequently surpass 20 hours. An unprecedented number of people are being cared for in hallways and spaces not designed for care as they wait for specialists or procedures. Frail elders are waiting months in loud and uncomfortable hospital rooms for a long-term care spot. About one in five Canadians are without a family doctor.

 

It’s not a lack of hospital beds or buildings that’s driving this crisis. Our health-care systems are collapsing because there aren’t enough people willing to work in them. As Prince Edward Island Health Minister Mark McLane said last fall, when Canada’s provincial health ministers gathered in Charlottetown, the top three issues facing our health systems “are staffing, staffing and staffing.” The number of vacant health-care positions are now almost 92,000, up from about 22,500 in 2015, according to Statistics Canada.

 

Pay is a major factor explaining why people are leaving health-care jobs or choosing not to enter the professions in the first place.

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