The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep cracks in Canada’s health care system.

The nursing shortage has reached a dangerous tipping point. Even before the pandemic, 83% of nurses reported that there were not enough health care staff to meet the needs of patients. Clinical levels of burnout are at an all-time high. The long-term care crisis continues, with deadly consequences.

For too long, elected officials have socially distanced themselves from these problems. It’s time to fix the cracks–vote to get Canada’s health care system back on track.

This is our analysis of the best and worst policies for nurses and patients.

Download the full analysis here

Supporting Nurses

In the face of crushing workloads, mandated overtime resulting in up to 24-hour shifts, the routine cancellation of vacations, and pervasive workplace violence, Canada’s nurses have reached a breaking point, with many leaving or on the verge of leaving the profession.

We call on all parties to commit targeted funding to fill nursing shortages, create a health workforce agency to address data and resource gaps in health workforce planning, and provide adequate protections from airborne viruses and workplace violence.

Liberal Party of Canada

Score
2.5/5
  • The Liberal Party commits $3.2 billion to the provinces and territories to hire 7,500 new family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners toward primary health teams.
  • The party’s platform also provides student loan debt relief for nurses and other health care workers to expand their presence in rural communities.
  • The party’s platform and commitments to date fail to recognize the scope of the nursing shortage and pending exodus from the profession, nor address the urgent need for a health workforce agency.

Conservative Party of Canada

Score
0.5/5
  • The Conservative Party’s platform makes no mention whatsoever of nurses.
  • The party has failed to make any commitments on the campaign trail aimed at supporting nurses.
  • The party’s platform does commit to sufficient domestic production and stockpiling of PPE that could protect health care workers from airborne viruses.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Score
3.5/5
  • The NDP commits to establishing a $250-million fund to train and hire more nurses across the country.
  • The party commits to identify gaps in health human resources and make a plan to recruit and retain doctors, nurses and other health professionals, based on population needs.
  • Far more federal funding is required to address the critical nursing shortage, and a federal health workforce agency could identify gaps and plan retention and recruitment efforts.

Green Party of Canada

Score
1.5/5
  • The Green Party focuses on broad measures designed to assist a wide range of people across Canada, such as establishing a Guaranteed Livable Income and providing new funding to integrate public health with community-based primary care.
  • However, the Greens’ platform does not contain measures specifically targeted to support nurses.
  • There are no commitments addressing key challenges faced by nurses, including short-staffing and workplace violence or the need for federal leadership to protect patients, residents and health care workers.

Seniors’ Care

COVID-19 exposed Canada’s failure to care for our seniors. The CFNU has long called for the government to reverse the race to the bottom that led to the tragedy in long-term care facilities. Decades of underinvestment and privatization encouraged an approach that focused on the search for profit, not on providing optimal conditions for work and care.

Along with national standards, safe staffing and appropriate infection prevention and control measures, Canada must phase out for-profit care to provide safe, quality care for our seniors.

Liberal Party of Canada

Score
4.5/5
  • The Liberal Party pledges $9 billion in new funding to address shortfalls in the long-term care (LTC) sector, including $3 billion to increase the availability of long-term care beds.
  • It commits to introducing a new Safe Long-Term Care Act to set national standards for work, care and infection prevention and control, in cooperation with provinces and territories.
  • Liberals further pledge new supports for care workers and low-income seniors.

Conservative Party of Canada

Score
1/5
  • The CPC platform largely fails to respond to critical challenges in seniors’ care.
  • Under a CPC government, national LTC standards would be non-binding and unenforceable, and for-profit care would continue unchecked.
  • The Conservative Party focuses on modest new forms of income support for individual and family caregivers rather than the transformative change required to improve and sustain LTC into the future.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Score
4/5
  • The NDP’s platform comprehensively tackles the most serious and pressing issues in LTC and recognizes the value of care work.
  • It commits to ending private, for-profit care by bringing LTC homes into the public health care system and working collaboratively to develop national standards for LTC and home care according to the principles of the Canada Health Act, with funding tied to standards.
  • New Democrats also pledge to work with provinces to recruit and protect staff, providing better wages, stable jobs, and health and safety protections for LTC workers.

Green Party of Canada

Score
3.5/5
  • The Greens propose an ambitious plan to bring change to seniors’ care in Canada, including incorporating LTC into the Canada Health Act.
  • Their commitments tackle a wide range of challenges, including work and care standards in LTC, elder abuse, and access to new home and community-based care services.
  • The Green Party further commits to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan and address gaps in federal legislation to protect pensions.

Pharmacare

No one should be forced to choose between filling their prescriptions and feeding their family – especially during a global pandemic. It is long past due for Canada to implement a national, universal, public and single-payer pharmacare program.

Canada’s nurses call on all parties to commit to urgently implementing pharmacare beginning with essential medicines coverage in 2022.

Liberal Party of Canada

Score
2.5/5
  • While the Liberal Party’s platform commits to moving forward on pharmacare, it is lacking in any additional funding or timelines toward its implementation.
  • Since the 2019 election, the Liberal government has taken minor gradual steps toward implementation, despite committing to accelerating it.
  • Even with a slow move toward implementation, the party has restated its commitment to the principle and moving forward with the process.

Conservative Party of Canada

Score
0/5
  • There is no mention of national universal pharmacare in the party’s commitments to date.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Score
4.5/5
  • The NDP’s platform unequivocally supports rapidly implementing a national, universal, public and single-payer pharmacare program.
  • It commits to a 2022 start date for the program, with annual federal funding of $10 billion.
  • It further commits to ending costly copayments, deductibles and premiums, and to developing a national strategy to cover drugs for rare diseases.

Green Party of Canada

Score
4.5/5
  • The Green Party commits to expanding the Canada Health Act to fully fund a universal pharmacare program.
  • It establishes a clear timeline for the implementation of national pharmacare, beginning in 2022.
  • It commits to introducing a comprehensive national formulary by 2025, two years ahead of the initial 2027 date set out by the federal government.

Federal Health Care Funding

As the Parliamentary Budget Officer recently pointed out, Canada Health Transfer (CHT) payments can’t keep up with rising health care spending.

Over the past year, premiers have called for the federal government to increase its share of health care funding to 35% of the total cost and to maintain spending at that level. The CFNU supports this call and urges the government to target this funding toward the public delivery of patient care.

Liberal Party of Canada

Score
3.5/5
  • The Liberal Party commits to $6 billion in new funding to eliminate health care waitlists.
  • It pledges a $3 billion investment over four years to hire 7,500 family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners, and commits to expanding virtual health care services and providing loan forgiveness measures for medical professionals in rural and remote communities.
  • Though Canada Health Transfer negotiations were begun with the provinces before Election 2021, the LPC platform contains no mention of boosting the federal share of the CHT from the current 28% to 35% as requested by premiers.

Conservative Party of Canada

Score
3/5
  • Conservatives pledge to meet with the Premiers within the first 100 days of forming government to propose a new health agreement with the provinces and territories, and increase the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer.
  • In recognition of longstanding deficits in health care funding, the Conservative Party commits to growing the CHT by at least 6% annually.
  • This is an important new investment. However, it falls somewhat short of the significant boost that premiers have been calling for.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Score
4/5
  • The NDP’s platform commits to working with the provinces and territories to strengthen health care and reverse the trend of decreasing federal funding in Medicare.
  • New Democrats commit a total of $68 billion in new investments over five years to address funding deficits in drug, mental health and dental coverage, as well as home care and long-term care services.
  • New funding is also included for a Critical Worker Fund to tackle shortages of medical professionals, as well as a vaccination plan and assistance in fighting the opioid epidemic.

Green Party of Canada

Score
3/5
  • The Green Party commits to restore the Canada Health Accord and increase transfers by replacing the current formula with demographic data and information on the real health care needs in each province and territory.
  • Greens also propose to prioritize mental health and rehabilitation services, as well as access to safe abortion services and gender-affirming health services.
  • The Green Party will also support family doctors and interprofessional teams to reduce wait times and enhance the accessibility of the care.

Child Care

In a pandemic that has decimated women’s labour market participation, the need for a national and universal early-learning and child care system has never been more essential.

Canada’s nurses call on all parties to implement such a system, ensuring it is accessible for all families, prioritizes public and not-for-profit spaces, is fair to workers, and provides equitable funding for Indigenous-led programs.

Liberal Party of Canada

Score
5/5
  • The Liberal Party has a detailed plan, including generous budgetary commitments and timelines.
  • Their plan contains supports for educators, $10/day costs by 2026 in primarily non-profit spaces, and provides earmarked funds for Indigenous programs.
  • The Liberal government signed bilateral 5-year agreements with 8 provinces and territories to date.

Conservative Party of Canada

Score
1/5
  • The Conservative Party commits to converting the Child Care Expense deduction into a refundable tax credit.
  • This tax credit would cover up to 75% of the cost of child care for lower-income families.
  • A tax credit fails to address the shortage of workers and spaces and is no substitute for a national and universal early-learning and child care system.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Score
4.5/5
  • The NDP commits to establishing an early-learning and child care system, with other levels of government and Indigenous communities, that is inclusive and high-quality.
  • The plan commits to $10/day spaces, ensures workers earn a living wage, and would be legislated.

Green Party of Canada

Score
4/5
  • The Green Party’s platform pledges to work with partners to establish a set of guiding principles to ensure sustainable, high-quality child care, but it is overall lacking in fiscal detail.
  • It pledges to increase federal child care investment to at least 1% of GDP annually, and provide targeted funding to train, recruit and retain workers.
  • The Green Party also commits to ensure equitable access to high-quality and culturally appropriate ELCC programs for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children.

Ask your candidates. Will you end the critical nursing shortage?