This spring, we commissioned a report to find out if the MLT shortage is real. A preliminary report was provided in June. Upon review, further feedback was required to ensure all stakeholders perspectives were included. The final report is now available.
At Queen's Park: Ivonne Mellozzi and Seetha Kumaresh
On November 22 we met with Ivonne Mellozzi, Acting of the Post-Secondary Accountability Branch and Seetha Kumaresh, Manager of the Universities Unit of the MTCU. We spoke with them about the training roadblocks that stand in the way of MLTs entering the healthcare field.
They encouraged us to figure out why if the labs are facing these shortages in staffing, the colleges aren’t rising to meet the challenge. They encouraged us to look at training examples, reach out to the Minister’s office, link in Colleges Ontario (an advocacy group for the colleges),
and engage employers to reach out to colleges. The info-graphic we presented them with detailing the shortages and the training landscape in Ontario is available here!
At Queen's Park: Stephanie Akers and Tim Blakley
On October 16, 2019 we met with Stephanie Akers, Manager - Health Workforce Evidence Unit and Tim Blakley, Manager - Health Workforce Strategic Policy Unit. We spoke about the impending shortage of MLTs in Ontario. Though they acknowledged the issue, they shared with us that there is no new money available. They stated that hearing the same message from many interest groups would help our cause, as well as
highlighting patient impact, tying the issue to hallway healthcare, and providing an ROI argument. They also suggested we meet with the Accountability Branch of the MTCU.
At Queen's Park: Neeta Sarta, Elizabeth Roediger, and Maricon Sanelli
On Wednesday September 11th, 2019 we met again with the Ministry of Health. The MLPAO was supported by Mt. Sinai Hospital's Administrative Director, Microbiology Christine Bruce, who joined us for our meeting with Neeta Sarta, Director Lab and Genetics Branch, Elizabeth Roediger, Senior Program Consultant - Policy Development Unit (Health), and Maricon Sanelli, Manager - Laboratories and Diagnostic Services Unit (Health). Neeta Sarta is replacing Bonnie Reib, who recently retired. We talked about rural and remote communities experiencing difficulties attracting and retaining lab professionals.
When discussing about clinical placements and the preparedness of graduating students, they mentioned that in the Ontario Health Team (OHT) model the ministry could allocate funding to the OHT for additional in-lab student placements or other lab related expenditures only to have the OHT reallocate the funding once it was received. They encouraged us to work with individual hospitals – from the top down: from the CEO
to the Lab. They recommended that we follow up David Lamb, Health Workforce Regulatory Oversight.
At Queen's Park: Tina Yuan and Briana Maguire
Both Tina Yuan and Briana Maguire are Policy Advisors with the MOH, reporting directly into Christine Elliott. Ms. Maguire specifically is responsible for laboratory work. Both were new to the position and are trying to understand how labs work, and as a result had great questions. We spoke with them although many changes to optimize are being made, that labs are utilizing MLA/Ts to their fullest scope of practice, we are still anticipating a shortage. We shared that something needs to happen or patient services will be impacted.
They committed to reviewing how they could address our recommendations of the immediate need to help rural and remote communities, increase seats in MLT programs and increase clinical placements. We followed up the day after this meeting with the full report of the recent survey regarding the shortage of MLTs.
At Queen's Park: MPP David Piccini
On June 20, we met with MPP, David Piccini. He is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Northumberland-Peterborough South. He currently serves as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and is a member of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.
Mr. Piccini was sympathetic to our issues and took the time to investigate the possibility of adding more seats. His office provided a response stating that the current government is not allocating additional funding to current programs. We would need to find the solutions in the private sector. His office did suggest that we participate in local program advisory committees at educational institutions that determine which seats are allocated for each program. Informing these committees of the impending shortages may be our best option to influence the number of seats in MLT programs.
MLPAO efforts to save the Allied Health Professional Development Fund
A meeting was called with the Allied Health Professional Development Fund (AHPDF) Steering committee which led to a second meeting with our other Allied Health Professional partners to discuss a joint lobbying strategy and to finalize a plan. Two weeks ago, the group met again and drafted a formal briefing note to be signed by all of the parties and used by all parties to discuss with government about how important the fund is to our professionals and how it affects patients in Ontario.
Our partners in the lobbying effort include audiologists, speech language pathologists, dietitians, medical radiation technologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and respiratory therapists who represent over 55,000 of Ontario's front-line health care professionals.
We were notified that the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care will be sending the first installment of transfer payment for 2019-2020 AHPDF funding on April 15th, 2019. We were notified on January 27, 2020 that the initiative will be cancelled as of March 2, 2020 and is winding down. Our CEO Michelle Hoad was interviewed by Jack Hauen of Queen's Park Briefing, a publication distributed to politicians, bureaucrats, and other stakeholders, about the cancellation. Click here to read our statement!
2018 Lobbying Initiatives
The MLPAO team has been busy in 2018 lobbying on your behalf. We visited Queen's Park on April 10, 2018 and visited 18 MPPs to discuss the impending challenges of the medical laboratory profession.