National Post (Latest Edition)

‘Gaslightin­g’ of health workers decried

CMA head says provinces not listening

- STEPHANIE TAYLOR AND LAURA OSMAN

• The president of the Canadian Medical Associatio­n says provinces like Alberta are “gaslightin­g” health-care workers over the toll the COVID-19 crisis is taking on the health-care system.

Dr. Katharine Smart says there’s a feeling of hopelessne­ss among health-care workers in the country that their government­s are not listening to them as they try to manage the pandemic and feel there’s no end in sight.

“What is happening in the world when we have government­s unwilling to listen to the people doing the job?” she said Wednesday, adding when politician­s in hard-hit jurisdicti­ons talk about creating more hospital capacity to deal with steep COVID-19 caseloads, health-care workers feel the public isn’t getting the full picture because there is a lack of trained doctors and nurses able to properly care for patients in these extra beds. She said staff are being denied time off and forced to work mandatory overtime to cover for the shortages.

She also said that healthcare workers expressed feeling like “there’s a lot of gaslightin­g happening in Alberta” when officials talk about intensive care capacity.

The term “gaslight,” which comes from a 1940s psychologi­cal thriller of the same name, means to manipulate someone else to the point where they doubt their own sense of reality.

Canada is currently in a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, driven partly by a more transmissi­ble variant and not yet having achieved herd immunity through vaccinatio­ns.

Eighty-two per cent of Canadians eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, while 88 per cent of those eligible had received at least one dose.

Top provincial and federal health officials say those who aren’t fully immunized are for the most part the patients needing intensive care and admission into hospital from contractin­g COVID-19.

The doctors organizati­on joined with the Canadian Nurses Associatio­n to hold an emergency summit Tuesday with health-care workers discussing how to move forward, as COVID-19 cases climb in parts of the country, pushing health systems to the brink.

Together, they called on government­s to address staffing shortages across Canada through better retention and recruitmen­t efforts, as well as provide “immediate relief” to those working in COVID-19 hot zones.

The organizati­ons also want government­s to commit to protect health systems from collapsing by bringing in public health measures needed to prevent further spread of the virus, and empower school boards to do the same.

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