Updated: Apr 4, 2022
HAMILTON ON (January 21, 2022): “With yesterday’s re-opening press conference highlighting the Ontario government’s recent investments in healthcare, it is important to emphasize there has still been no concrete investment in medical laboratory health human resources for several decades.
Budget balancing by previous governments across the political spectrum has weakened our healthcare system. Cuts to hospital budgets have resulted in a reduction of healthcare workers for many years, including the 1600 nursing layoffs under the previous Liberal government which Premier Ford mentioned yesterday. He is correct that our healthcare system was not in good shape when our current government took office.
Today, Premier Ford stated: “We want to make sure we’re prepared for any future pandemic.”
We could not agree more. The Auditor General’s special report on Laboratory Testing, Case Management and Contact Tracing last year noted significant laboratory resource concerns and lack of surge capacity were identified in 2003 during SARS, citing a commission which “described the lab as ‘under-funded and under resourced’ prior to SARS.” Nearly twenty years later, our laboratories remain under-funded and under-resourced, a situation that has only worsened in the subsequent years.
We applaud the 6,700 nurses and long-term care workers this government has added to the system and their plan to add another 6,000 this spring. However, with 70% of medical decisions relying on laboratory results, we need to see similar investments in medical laboratory professionals.
70% of Ontario laboratories started COVID-19 short-staffed. We have called on the Ontario government to invest $6.2M over 4 years to support training and clinical placements for medical laboratory professionals. Labs are not able to take on students due to their staffing shortage. Schools are not able to take on more students due to lack of externships. We need to see the same approach taken with nursing and long-term care teams extended to medical laboratory professionals exhausted after two years working overtime and double shifts.
We are far from prepared for any future pandemic. We were not ready for this pandemic. We need support for medical laboratory health human resources after decades of chronic underfunding to make it through the next five years, let alone the next pandemic—whichever comes first.”
- Michelle Hoad, CEO, Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario.
 Office of the Auditor General, “COVID-19 Preparedness and Management: Special Report on Laboratory Testing, Case Management and Contact Tracing,” November 2020, https://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/specialreports/specialreports/COVID-19_ch3testingandtracing_en20.pdf, 6.  Based on a survey of lab leaders and professionals in May 2020.