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  • Writer's pictureMLPAO

MEDIA RELEASE: #MedLabThx to Ontario Pharmacists

HAMILTON ON (December 2021): “The Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario (MLPAO) wishes to thank Ontario pharmacists for their contributions to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Throughout the pandemic, pharmacies have taken on a great many public health tasks, from swab collection to vaccination and more. This has helped alleviate some of the immense pressure exerted on short-staffed professions like nursing and medical laboratory technologists (MLTs).

Ontario’s medical laboratories are experiencing a shortage of MLTs. 70% of Ontario laboratories entered COVID-19 short-staffed.[1] 95% of Ontario medical laboratory professionals are now reporting working short, with 91% working overtime. 69% were asked to come into work on a vacation or day off.[2]

Although keeping up with testing has been incredibly difficult with these considerations, Ontario medical laboratory professionals have completed over 20M COVID-19 tests alongside the 270M laboratory tests they perform annually for other conditions.

We are seeing many positive new developments in our advocacy discussions following this year’s Call to Action. This includes including new and expanded seats in MLT training programs, bridging programs from medical laboratory assistant/technician (MLA/T) to MLT, discussions around clinical placements funding, simulation laboratories, and solutions for rural and remote laboratories.

This winter, we’re taking a moment to acknowledge the important interprofessional collaborations that have sustained our healthcare system in this difficult time. For two years now, we have been living through an unprecedented situation. This has demanded extra-ordinary support, from staff relocating to different units, to sectors taking on unusual tasks for a few months, to professionals working to their full scope of practice.

Across Canada, many healthcare professionals have stepped into this pinch to support the overwhelming need for COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration: pharmacists, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, and other.[3] When we are not experiencing a pandemic emergency, these activities are best performed by the health professionals normally regulated to perform these tasks who have long-term knowledge, experience, and institutional memory.

However, desperate times call for desperate measures, and we are grateful to pharmacy teams for temporarily helping to shoulder some of the burden of healthcare surge capacity during our staffing shortage - #MedLabThx. With this brief respite and many new initiatives on the horizon to support health workforce capacity for medical labs, medical laboratory professionals will be stabilized and ready for the next pandemic.

[1] Based on a survey of lab leaders and professionals in May 2020. [2] Based on a survey of medical laboratory professionals in Fall 2021. [3] “Building health workforce capacity in response to the pandemic,” Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), published August 9, 2021,

2021.12 Media Release - #MedLabThx to Pharmacists
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