Workers call on federal government to address OH&S impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

EDMONTON – A letter from Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) president Gil McGowan called on the Canada Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to focus on recruiting and retaining health care workers as Canada enters the fourth year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his correspondence, McGowan asked the agency to follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) discussion on health and the workplace at their conference in May 2023.

“The Canadian Public Health Agency must focus on a strategy to recruit health care workers.” said McGowan. “We are reaching out to you to do more for our health care staffing shortages.”

Alberta alone is projected to be short 9,300 nursing professionals within seven years. The current provincial government’s measures are projected to fall short of filling the staffing need.

The letter refers to a report going to the next WHO conference that recommends that the organization and governments look at “the importance of investment in the health and care workforce.” The report includes a recommendation that al countries have a human resource plan for health care workers. Canada does not currently have such a plan.

“As the solemn anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches us this week, we are pleading with PHAC to take a stronger approach and to address proper staffing which will help keep the public and workers safe,” writes McGowan. “We are reaching out to you to do more for workers and their families, to ensure that public health is part of workplace health, and to do what is possible to invest in the health workforce.”

The letter is attached as background. The WHO report can be found here.

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John Ashton
Director of Communications, AFL
Phone: 780.913.6518