Human resources shortage in the health care system: Vitalité Health Network takes stock of the situation

Bathurst, Wednesday, June 16, 2021 – The shortage of staff in the health care system is an issue of concern to all New Brunswickers. This situation can be seen across the country and in many other countries. The COVID-19 pandemic only accentuated a context that had already been difficult for several years. In the interests of information and transparency, Vitalité Health Network is providing an update on the situation to the public.

Summer 2021

According to Johanne Roy, Acting Vice-President of Human Resources, every year the Network slows down its activities during the summer, thereby providing employees with some additional breathing room, so that they may take some well-deserved vacation. “The temporary slowdown measures have already started in some sectors and will continue until the beginning of September,” she stated.

According to Ms. Roy, this may involve temporary closures of beds for a few days or a reduction of the number of operating rooms in the surgical suites. Certain services that are deemed non-essential may be temporarily reduced or suspended to reassign staff to sectors with shortages. Many student jobs will be filled starting at the beginning of July, which should provide some respite and additional support to the teams in place until the end of August. “The Network is deploying all possible efforts to maintain safe, quality services for the public, but the situation remains fragile,” she said. “We note that the various sectors and professions are providing each other with a lot of help in all the Network’s facilities. This is truly remarkable, and it is thanks to the professionalism and dedication of our staff that we will be able to maintain services during the summer, a period that is always a little more difficult in terms of staffing.”

Our workforce

As of March 31, 2021, the Network had 7,464 employees, which is 226 more than on the same date last year. In our workforce, 83% of employees hold a permanent position and nearly 580 positions were vacant, which is 8% of our staff. 

The Network can count on the services of 550 physicians, including 309 family physicians and 241 specialists. Across the Network, there are still slightly over 100 physician positions to be filled. We have 43 nurse practitioners.

Recruiting nursing staff

The Network is actively pursuing its recruiting strategies provincially, nationally and internationally.  Nurses are the cornerstone of the Network, because they guarantee the organization’s operational functioning. Although their number has been in constant decline provincially and nationally, the Network has managed to recruit several nurses in recent months, most of whom are graduates of Université de Moncton’s class of 2021. 

As of June 10, 2021, the Network had recruited 100 new registered nurses who will start between now and September. Another 10 or so files are still being processed. With respect to licensed practical nurses, there have been 49 new hires by the Network.

The Network is continuing its strategies for recruiting and support of a culture of caring and appreciation that will benefit staff retention. A healthy and safe workplace with a focus on peer support and collegiality will help make the Network a sought-after and attractive workplace.

Thank you to our staff and physicians

The Network would like to wholeheartedly thank all teams on the ground who must work extra hard to offset the current human resources shortage that is being experienced nationwide. “Their endless generosity and loyalty are noteworthy and greatly appreciated by all New Brunswick communities,” concluded Ms. Roy.