Cracks in the Foundations of the Canadian Healthcare System

Cracks in the Foundations of the Canadian Healthcare System


The Canadian healthcare system faces several challenges. The challenges will continue to impact the future of the nation’s healthcare system by exerting pressure on the primary health and the quality of health. The healthcare sector in Canada has established strategies of addressing the challenges in a setting. The current paper addresses cracks in the Canadian healthcare system, focusing on the problem of recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals and provides strategies deal with the challenge.

Background Information on the State of Canadian Healthcare

The Canadian healthcare industry has had several achievements and challenges. For instance, Canadians have regularly encountered many infectious and epidemic diseases, which have put the healthcare sector industry on toes (Feldberg, Vipond & Bryant, 2006).  Diseases, such as tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera, and small pox have had a negative impact both on the social and economic costs (Feldberg, Vipond & Bryant, 2006). Consequently, this has on numerous occasions affected trade, shortened young lives, and reduced the production levels. The Medicare was initiated in the nation with an intention of enhancing the healthcare of Canadians. Medicare later came to be acknowledged as the Canadian Health Act that was aimed at providing basic coverage for citizens to enable them meet their healthcare needs. Nonetheless, the Canadian healthcare has become different and it does not serve its initial purpose. Therefore, despite the fact that Canadians still boast about their healthcare system, most of the populations are concerned about its future. For example, there is an increasing number of patients that is drastically changing as a result of the multiplying culturally diverse population with distinctive healthcare needs. The current situation in Canada implies that regardless of the fact that the Canadian healthcare approach could have significantly served the population years ago, the current healthcare needs have become complex, which necessitates the need for more innovative solutions. In addition to the traditional healthcare services and sociological approaches, the healthcare sector also needs to incorporate elements of human rights and political economy perspectives on the nation’s health (Raphael, Bryant, & Rioux, 2010).

Recruitment and Retention

Generally, the healthcare sector is a cutting edge industry that incorporates highly skilled and trained professionals who extremely care about the future of the health care system (Alexander, Wegner & Associates, 2004). Healthcare practitioners include physicians, nurses, chiropractors, opticians, occupational therapists, and specialists among others. These specialists are key figures in the effective and well-organized provision of healthcare services to patients. Nevertheless, similar to other sectors of the healthcare system, Canada’s healthcare human resource has its own challenges, particularly in the recruitment and retention of the professionals.

Recruitment of healthcare practitioners in the Canadian healthcare sector impacts several groups in different ways. For instance, the current increase in the age of the physician workforce alongside the reduction in the number of new graduates is detrimental to the nation’s healthcare sector. Furthermore, the continued increased migration of the Ontario physicians implies that severe shortage of practitioners will be imminent in the near future. The current population of nurses is also facing a challenge since there are less nurses graduating besides many of them deserting the profession citing cases of stress in the sector.

The main problems facing the Canadian healthcare system under recruitment and retention include limited supply of the personnel, dispersal, scope of practice, and incorporating the right skills among several health care providers (Priest, 2006). Furthermore, transformations in the healthcare service delivery, mainly the increasing focus on collaborative teams and networks of health providers, imply that the customary latitudes of practice also need to be reformed (Conway & Clancy, 2009). This necessitates solutions as well as approaches that address the current needs of the impending shortage of healthcare practitioners. Most of the Canadian populations are concerned about the supply and distribution of nurses, doctors and other healthcare practitioners. Generally, many Canadians do not have a doctor in their communities. Many of the populations wait for long periods of time before they can see a specialist. Additionally, there are few nurses in the emergency and other healthcare departments where there are urgent care cases. On the other hand, health care practitioners also have several challenges in regard to the quality of their work. They have several times requested for an action to be taken to enhance their morale and working conditions. Should such situations continue to prevail, it is apparent that the Canadians will experience an adverse supply and distribution of health practitioners and professionals, particularly in the marginalized communities.

Addressing the Cracks

The Canadian healthcare sector needs to put in place short-term solutions that are aimed at increasing the supply of healthcare practitioners. This would improve the supply of physicians among the communities that are in need both in the rural and remote areas as well as central cities. Therefore, one of the most effective approaches applied in the consolidation of the recruitment and retention of healthcare practitioners is reviewing the prevailing education and training programs. There is a need to transform the relationship between healthcare providers and patients. In the new arrangement, the patients need to assume a more practical role and responsibility in their health and healthcare. To attain this objective, there should be a total review and renew of the education and training programs for health care practitioners. Moreover, there also need to be transformations in the health care services delivery as well as the need for healthcare practitioners to work in collaboration in integrated teams and systems that are aimed at focusing on meeting patients’ needs. All these objectives can only be attained through making changes in the education and training programs that the health care providers receive.

Several transformations are already taking shape in the Canadian healthcare sector. They include the partnership between the Canadian Nurses Association, the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges, and the Canadian Association of University Schools of Nursing in collaboration with Health Canada (Canadian Medical Association & Canadian Nurses Association, 2011). According to the organizations, the learning process where several specialists collaborate in learning and development is key in the sector. The entities also believe that for the health care practitioners to work together in teams and share experiences, it is apparent that their education and training prepare them for a such working organization. Nonetheless, such kind of collaborative educational strategies needs to be carefully implemented so as not to negatively impact the normal approaches seeking to enhance the service delivery of the healthcare specialists. Therefore, through the guidance of the Health Council of Canada, all the healthcare providers from several parts of the nation alongside other important stakeholders in the health care system can be brought together in addressing the challenges that face the nation’s health personnel.


The Canadian healthcare sector faces several challenges. The current paper has highlighted the concern about challenges facing health care providers hence impacting their recruitment and retention. The concern will continue to negatively affect the Canadian health care industry if there would be no effective approaches established in the near future. Addressing the problem will also necessitate coordinated efforts of all the healthcare sector practitioners hence tackling both the current and future healthcare challenges.



Canadian Medical Association, & Canadian Nurses Association. (2011). Principles to guide health care transformation in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association.

Conway, P. H., & Clancy, C. (2009). Transformation of health care at the front line. Jama301(7), 763-765.

Feldberg, G., Vipond, R., & Bryant, T. (2006). Cracks in the foundation: The origins and development of the Canadian and American health care systems. Staying alive: Critical perspectives on health, illness, and health care, 221-239.

Priest, A. (2006). What’s ailing our nurses?: A discussion of the major issues affecting nursing human resources in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Health Services Research Foundation.

Raphael, D., Bryant, T., & Rioux, M. H. (Eds.). (2010). Staying alive: Critical perspectives on health, illness, and health care. Canadian Scholars’ Press.