Wanted: a health care workforce strategy
The conditions of work are also the conditions of care. This is the first key message emerging from a recent meeting of advocates and researchers who were brought together by a committee of health care and workforce experts in the spring. They had all endorsed The Care Economy Statement.
Canadian Health Coalition Board Member Pat Armstrong, one of the initiative’s five founders, noted there was a consensus on the urgent need for government action to recruit, train and retain the care labour force. Such action is necessary to avoid the immediate threat of shortages but also to protect the social, mental, physical, and economic health of the country and reduce the reliance on unpaid, untrained care labour.
Some key messages from the forum:
1. The conditions of work are also the conditions of care. Care workers can only utilize their skills effectively if they have appropriate conditions. And they can only stay in their jobs if their conditions allow them to lead healthy and secure lives.
2. The focus should be on those who are the most vulnerable, rebuilding these jobs from the bottom up. This requires a floor of minimum, enforced standards for work and for care. Regulations and enforcement are required, accompanied by meaningful penalties, rather than just hoping benefits will trickle down from the top.
3. Training must be accessible, appropriate, and provide continuing education for all those who work in care.
4. Address precarity in employment and in migration status. Access and supports must facilitate pathways to permanent status.
5. Ensure public funding goes to public services. And establish a pan-Canadian body for Health Human Resources, with public reporting on progress towards equity in access to quality care and quality work.
Learn more at thecareeconomy.ca