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MEDIA STATEMENT: Call to Action - Invest in Laboratory Health Human Resources

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

August 30, 2021 – Hamilton ON: “The Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario (MLPAO) is calling on the Ontario government to invest $6.2M over 4 years through a three phased approach to address the severe shortage of medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) in Ontario laboratories.


Phase 1 would provide immediate funding of $3.6M over 3 years for a Laboratory Externship Program. This funding must be provided to hospital and private labs currently servicing a population of 14.8 million citizens. Our labs are unable to take on students due to their staffing shortage. Schools are unable to take on more students due to lack of externships. Funding is needed immediately to alleviate this roadblock. Phase 2 requires $2.6M over 3 years to assist rural and remote areas impacted by this shortage. A Northern Health Program for Laboratories will allow our struggling northern labs to recruit, retain, and support medical laboratory professionals. Phase 3 will include further research for a simulation lab that will focus on labs in rural, remote, and northern communities.


Through COVID-19, we experienced how MLT shortages affect laboratory testing. Despite working long hours short-staffed, we never reached the 100,000 target, only getting as high as 76,472. Investments in instrumentation are limited when MLT numbers stay the same.


Without intervention, ongoing shortages could cost taxpayers a projected $1.6 billion dollars annually. Health human resource shortages can mean delays in turnaround time (TAT), lengthened hospital stays, and duplicate appointments with family doctors. 70% of medical decisions rely on laboratory results.[1] Labs impact all aspects of patient care, from emergency rooms to family medicine to mental health. Every sample—COVID-19 swabs taken in testing centers, blood drawn in doctor’s offices, tumors extracted during surgery—is analyzed by an MLT


We are proud to be joined in this Call to Action by a growing list of over 40 hospital networks, laboratories, and medical professional associations including the Ontario Hospital Association, the Ontario Nurses’ Association, and others. Our healthcare colleagues know the critical importance of medical laboratory professionals.


Shortages have been building for decades now, with 41% of practicing MLTs in Ontario eligible to retire within 2-4 years.[2] COVID-19 has accelerated shortages. 87% of medical laboratory professionals are experiencing burnout and 42% contemplating leaving the field or retiring early.[3] A cycle of shortages, increased workload, burnout, turnover worsens this HHR crisis.[4] The current shortage of 466 MLTs far exceeds those entering the field (291).[5]


We need action now. Laboratory testing impacts all of us—if you would like to support, please visit mlpao.org/actnow.”


- Michelle Hoad, CEO, Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario.


For further information: Sonya Singh, Media Contact - sonyaksingh@consultant.com

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Laboratory Systems, “Strengthening Clinical Laboratories,” https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dls/strengthening-clinical-labs.html. [2] CMLTO, “Medical Laboratory Technologists: 2020 Health Human Resource Report,” Registration Statistics Report, March 2021, page 7, assumes retirement eligibility at 55. http://www.cmlto.com/images/stories/Resources/CollegePublications/ResearchReportsPosition StatementsWhitePapers/2020_mlt_hhr_rprt_fnl.pdf [3] Based on a survey of medical laboratory professionals in April 2021. [4] Tran, “Clinical Placements,” page 13. [5] Based on a survey of 120 medical laboratory workplaces in Spring 2021.


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2021.08.30 Media Release - Call to Action - Invest in Laboratory HHR
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