October 27, 2021 – Hamilton ON: “The Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario (MLPAO) has watched with dismay the sudden closures of lab facilities in British Columbia this month. Dozens of appointments for routine testing were rescheduled or cancelled without notice, leaving patients scrambling to find care elsewhere. This situation hints at what could happen in Ontario if we do not take steps to support Health Human Resources (HHR) in Ontario medical laboratories.
Our Call to Action to the Government of Ontario to invest $6.2M over 4 years to address the severe shortage of Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLTs) is more urgent than ever. Numbers of working MLTs continue to decrease, with just 6258 registered as practicing in 2020 and with 41% of practicing MLTs in Ontario eligible to retire within 2-4 years. The current shortage of 466 MLTs far exceeds those entering the field (291). Medical Laboratory Assistant/Technicians (MLA/Ts) are supporting to the best of their scope of practice, but everyone within the lab is experiencing this strain.
Recent survey data reveals 95% of Ontario medical laboratory professionals are reporting their lab is working short, with 91% working overtime. 69% were asked to come into work on a vacation or day off.
Our 3-phase approach is modeled on existing government programs for healthcare training and rural laboratory services. Phase 1 addresses the urgent clinical placement roadblock by providing immediate funding for a Laboratory Externship Program, supporting both laboratories and schools. Phase 2 supports rural and remote areas particularly impacted by shortages with a Northern Health Program for Laboratories which would incentivise lab work in rural and remote communities. Phase 3 will include further research for a simulation lab to support clinical training for students in all required areas of the laboratory.
Without intervention, we fear ongoing shortages will mean delays in turnaround time (TAT) for tests, lengthened hospital stays, and duplicate appointments with family doctors, potentially costing the province a projected $1.6 billion dollars annually.
Every investment in healthcare requires a consequent consideration of laboratory services. October has seen the government invest in a new hospital for Windsor and Essex County, as well as accelerator programs for nurses and PSWs. 70% of healthcare is contingent on laboratory services. Without also supporting laboratories, service provision could falter as it did in BC. It is time now to invest in medical laboratory professionals. This workforce is at the center of healthcare for all Ontarians. Please visit mlpao.org/actnow to join us in taking action.”
- Michelle Hoad, CEO, Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario.
For further information: Sonya Singh, Media Contact - firstname.lastname@example.org
 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 120 medical laboratory workplaces in Spring 2021 compared to CMLTO Annual Report 2020, page 17.  Based on a survey of medical laboratory professionals in Fall 2021.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Laboratory Systems, “Strengthening Clinical Laboratories,” https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dls/strengthening-clinical-labs.html.