Fall 2020 - Spring 2021
For years now, the MLPAO has been hearing about and advocating for the impending shortage of MLTs in Ontario. The final report of our MLT HHR Environmental Scan, released in November 2019, confirmed what we had been hearing all along: the MLT shortage is real.
Our multi-step plan to address the MLT shortages, Action Now for Ontario Labs was released September 1. Action Now for Ontario Labs is a multi-phase project bringing together employers, educators, laboratory professionals, and government to understand the ongoing laboratory human resource shortage.
As part of the first stage of the action plan, a survey was issued to Ontario lab leaders. Preliminary analysis of data suggests troubling shortages of medical laboratory professionals. Read the review of the initial data, released October 23, here.
We sent a registered letter to Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Ross Romano September 3 to request a meeting about this initiative and finding solutions for Ontario Laboratories. Read the letter here.
We followed up with registered letters to Minister Romano and Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton on November 4. Read the letter here.
On February 12, the Ministry of Finance confirmed receipt of our Pre-Budget Submission on the MLT Shortage Crisis in Ontario Laboratories. Our submission outlines the roots of this issue and shares some current statistics about the shortage. We explain the major road blocks of training and clinical placements, as well as highlighting some currently under-served areas. Read our Pre-Budget Submission here.
We submitted a Skills Development Fund application February 26 for a training project to support MLTs testing for COVID-19.
On the anniversary of the first emergency orders in Ontario, we are still advocating for our members. After reading OPSEU/SEFPO’s news release on March 5 calling for “immediate and significant funding to expand the capacity of Ontario’s public health laboratories," we sent this letter of support. On March 10 we sent this letter to Premier Doug Ford, including top cabinet ministers, taking stock of the year and highlighting the human resource shortage as a barrier to increased testing.
September - March 2020
Are you experiencing burnout, low morale, or other mental health and well-being concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
We are inviting you to participate in the study entitled ‘Examining the mental health and well-being of medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory technicians/assistants in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic’.
Principal Investigator Dr. Behdin Nowrouzi-Kia is an occupational therapist and assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. This is a joint research project with the University of Guelph.
March 2020 - present
COVID-19 became front and center during the middle of March 2020. The MLPAO moved quickly to create a public relations campaign, knowing lab professionals would be at epicenter of the pandemic.
As Medical Laboratory professionals continued fighting COVID-19 as front-line healthcare workers, the MLPAO has been speaking with local, provincial, and national media sources about turnaround times, COVID-19 testing processes, and the hidden heroes working hard in labs across the province. Click here to view all our media appearances.
We also developed a significant public awareness campaign during Med Lab Week called #medlabthx to share the faces of medical laboratory professionals fighting COVID-19 with Ontarians, and to share patients' thanks for medical laboratory professionals to those working at their local lab. To see the stories, pictures, and thank yous, click here.
These public awareness efforts have been supporting our advocacy for the profession during COVID-19 through letters to Premier Doug Ford (Letter 1 Letter 2 Letter 3 Letter 4), Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Long Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, ADM Michael Hillmer, and others. We have been a vocal supporter of labs through the pandemic, bringing to the attention of the government the situation in Ontario laboratories.
On July 1 we sent a registered letter to Minister of Health Christine Elliott requesting a meeting. Read the letter here.
On August 1 we sent a second registered letter to Minister of Health Christine Elliott requesting a meeting. Read the letter here
March 2020 - present
As soon as COVID-19 struck Ontario, our CEO Michelle Hoad has been participating in daily Ministry Emergency Operations Centre meetings with the Ministry of Health. We have been sharing reports from these meetings through our MLPAO Update newsletters sent to members. At these meetings, we have been taking the feedback we heard from lab professionals and pushing for changes with the ministry.
April - June 2020
After a very strong public relations campaign (including our Not Included video campaign), advocacy with the Ministry of Health, direct conversation with policy advisors of the premier, support letters from the Ontario Medical Association, Ontario Association of Pathologists, and Unions, we were still not included in the Temporary Pandemic Pay initiative. We have been advised that this was a political decision. There were 375,000 healthcare workers approved for TPP, but several other regulated health care groups were also excluded (e.g. MRTs and physiotherapists). Our CEO provided a full explanation for members at our Summer Town Hall in late June. Email us to request a video link to this town hall update! Click here to learn more about this campaign.
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.