Various provinces in Canada have started offering bonuses and additional funding to attract and retain nurses as many nurses are leaving because of the stress from the pandemic.
Canada’s shortage of nurses has been a long-standing problem. To retain nurses, Quebec is now offering a $15,000 bonus while British Columbia (BC) has approved more than $6-M in additional funding to hire healthcare workers in Northern BC.
Filipino-Canadian Dan Carlo Buenaventura, a nurse in Winnipeg, said the nursing shortage has become a bigger problem now because of the pandemic.
"It had created more stress on an already burdened healthcare system in terms of shortage in manpower. So, I think 'yun pong pandemic has a lot of impact on an already existing problem, and it made it worse," Buenaventura explains.
For Filipino-Canadian Edsel Mutia, an ICU nurse at the North York General Hospital in Toronto, many of his colleagues have left, not just because of stress but also because of Ontario's plan to limit the wage increases of nurses to 1% annually.
The Philippine Embassy has long been pushing for Canada to recognize the nursing education of Filipinos who have moved here. But the stringent requirements have left many unable to practice.
Buenaventura and Mutia, both experienced nurses before coming to Canada, explained how vastly different the nurse training is between the two countries.
"I know that nursing education is universal, but it depends upon each country. The safe practice is really particular here in Canada," Mutia says.
For Buenaventura, "The bureaucratic method of practicing nursing back home where the doctor is usually the head of the team. And it's not really a team where the nurse has a lot of things to say about the patient's care. That is very different in Canada because in Canada, the nurses are supposed to have a say."
Buenaventura added that it would be risky to issue temporary licenses to Internationally-Educated Nurses or IENs without proper re-training just to solve the shortage.
"We cannot take advantage of the situation, to just let everybody practice without adhering to standards, because at the end of the day it's still the safety of the public that's still at stake," according to Buenaventura.
For Mutia, he says Filipino nurses should remain hopeful as there are nurse organizations that mentor and even provide financial assistance. Some of those organizations are the Care-4-Nurses in Ontario and the Integrated Filipino Canadian Nurses Association.
The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA-AIIC) predicted that the nurse shortage in the country could reach as high as 60,000 by 2022.