HAMILTON ON (April 2022): “Medical laboratory professionals are not included in Ontario’s Plan to Stay Open, announced this week. Our government is correct to invest in healthcare; Ontario’s health system has been chronically underfunded for decades, and the pandemic has revealed deep fault lines. However, there will be no end to the pandemic, no end to the procedures backlog, no end to hallway medicine without Medical Laboratory Health Human Resources.
Physicians, Nurses, and PSWs, are an important part of expanding health and long-term care; but healthcare relies on medical laboratory services. Expansion of services will not be possible until we see equal investment in training programs for medical laboratory professionals.
Building more hospital beds is important for bringing patients out of the hallway. Without diagnostics, physicians would be left with patient-reported symptoms and basic analysis (appearance, temperature, or blood pressure).
Beds are just beds without medical laboratory professionals to process and analyze tests. Testing accurately determines levels of white blood cells and clotting conditions; microbes, viruses, and causes of infection; blood type and blood product provision; whether antibiotics are working; evidence of cancerous cells; biopsies on surgically removed tumors; organ function, and much more.
Labs have been understaffed for decades. Working Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLTs) continue to decline, with just 6258 registered as practicing in 2020 and 41% of practicing MLTs in Ontario eligible to retire within 2-4 years. 70% of labs entered COVID-19 short-staffed. 90% of medical laboratory professionals are experiencing burnout and 73% actively desire to leave the profession—46% are contemplating early retirement, with an additional 27% wanting to leave but not currently seeing an option.
Rural and remote areas are most impacted by this shortage, necessitating a targeted recruitment and retention strategy to support healthcare in these communities. We have called on the Ontario government to invest $6.2M over 4 years to support externships and a northern health program for medical laboratory professionals.
Treasury Board President Prabmeet Sarkaria said, “Our hardworking families, dedicated health care workers and job-creating businesses deserve a plan that will keep Ontario open, safe and prepared.” We do deserve that plan. But until we see a plan to stay open that includes medical laboratory professionals, Ontario will never be open, safe, and prepared.”
- Michelle Hoad, CEO, Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario.
 CMLTO, “Annual Report 2020,” October 2021, pages 15-16, assumes retirement eligibility at 55. http://www.cmlto.com/images/stories/Resources/CollegePublications/AnnualReports/cmlto_ar2020.pdf  Based on a survey of lab leaders and professionals in May 2020.  Based on a survey of medical laboratory professionals in February 2022.