Evidence of meeting #35 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was need.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Arthur Sweetman  Professor, Department of Economics, McMaster University, As an Individual
  • Jean-Marie Berthelot  Vice-President, Programs and Executive Director, Quebec Office, Canadian Institute for Health Information
  • Rachel Bard  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nurses Association
  • Lisa Little  Consultant, Health Human Resources, Canadian Nurses Association

4:20 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nurses Association

Rachel Bard

Thank you.

I would like to add that right now, in nursing, we have three applications for every one entry into the seats available. Our report, Tested Solutions, suggested that we should be increasing the number of seats by 1,000 for three years, from the year 2009 when it was launched until 2011. The impact would such that it would take 15 years to actually reduce our projected shortfall of 60,000 FTEs to 45,000 FTEs.

As you can see, we need to keep producing students, because we also have retirements coming. We have demographic realities. Reducing the seats will not be a solution; it will compound the problem.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

I appreciate your holistic approach, as far as healthy living and helping ourselves to address the situation are concerned. We've said that it's not necessarily about the number of nurses. You talked about more productivity and resource management.

We just had a new hospital built in my constituency, in Vernon. It has state-of-the-art equipment. No longer is a nurse trying to heave a huge fellow across a bed or something. All of that is automated now.

I noticed in some of the notes here that 40% of the nurses are over 50. Not that 50 is old, but there are some challenges, in that there is physical stress. In one smaller hospital in my area, it costs $500,000 a year for stress leave for nurses. Those costs are hindering service delivery.

Do you see more technology, as far as help for care and better resource management are concerned, as going to help the situation, that it's not just about a labour shortage but about better organization and better use of the facilities?

4:25 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nurses Association

Rachel Bard

Absolutely. When we talk about improving productivity, we don't mean doing more with less. We actually say that we should look at our models of care. Let's look at how we can best utilize the technology. How can we remove the barriers to allow nurses to practice to their full scope?

There are some good programs. For instance, the lean methodology, which has been used in Saskatchewan to release time to care, has really removed barriers and has increased the number of hours nurses have around patients. Of course, it also improves the quality of work life.

We also know that we need to make sure that we stabilize our workforce by having full-time positions. Right now, about 58% of positions are full-time positions. We're saying that our standard should be about 70% so that we maximize and ensure that the patient has the right level of care.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

But is that the association saying that? I ask because at one of the hospitals I am familiar with, what the nurses say is that because of seniority, they have found that when they phone for a nurse, the person will say no. They have to go through a list, and all of a sudden somebody is working a double shift because they can't get anybody in. To me, that is a management or organizational problem that needs to be addressed, more so than a lack of resources.

There are a lot of people in the profession who do not want to work full time; they want to work part time. It's a career choice. I think some of the challenges we're having in health care have a lot to do with management of resources and technology within the plant.

How am I doing, Mr. Chair?

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

You are right at seven minutes, so that's a good place to stop.

We will adjourn for five or ten minutes and recommence with Mr. Cuzner.

Thank you. We will suspend.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Perhaps we could get the members and presenters back to their seats. We certainly appreciate the visiting during the break. I'm sure there were a lot of good questions posed and answers given.

4:40 p.m.

A voice

Better answers.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Perhaps they were better questions, but there are good answers always.

That said, on a more formal basis, we'll ask Mr. Cuzner to commence his round.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Speaking of better questions—

4:40 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

—with some better questions.

Go ahead.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

—I have three that I want to ask, but first, Professor Sweetman, you're an economist.

4:40 p.m.

Professor, Department of Economics, McMaster University, As an Individual

April 25th, 2012 / 4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

I'll ask you and any of the others to comment on something that we've heard from the corporate sector. I appreciate your comments on the provincial sponsorship, I absolutely do, but what we've heard from a couple of the corporations here is that they still believe there's a federal role. I think your reference to the federal role is a light touch, and I appreciate that.

One thing they floated is something that works really well in Ontario now, a tax credit for co-op opportunities or mentorships, and what have you. Do you see that being a benefit coming from the federal government as well, as far as closing that skills gap domestically is concerned, with our own trained people from Canadian institutions?

4:40 p.m.

Professor, Department of Economics, McMaster University, As an Individual

Dr. Arthur Sweetman

So are you focusing explicitly on youth—