During the November meeting of the Canadian Health Professional Secretariat, our colleagues in British Columbia let us know that they are seeing increasing numbers of health professionals migrate there from Ontario.
It’s not surprising given austerity appears to be biting very hard here – and its not just in the hospital sector.
We’ve noticed that despite incredible organizing success, our overall health care membership has not grown within the last six months. This confirms the view from BC that our health care professionals and skilled support are departing to where the jobs are.
There have been numerous high profile cases where hospitals have unloaded significant numbers of staff – we reported earlier this year that about 290 full-time equivalent jobs were leaving The Ottawa Hospital. Similarly, The Scarborough Hospital has been in the spotlight for shedding jobs and services. Even smaller centers, such as the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital has lost significant employment for health professionals and support staff.
How organizations determine the cost of employee turnover can vary. Some look at only the recruitment costs. For example, in 2008 HealthForce Ontario estimated it costs $25,000 to recruit a nurse. Others look at broader impacts, including the cost of severance, recruitment, training, overtime and lost productivity. London Health Sciences Centre, for example, estimates the real cost of employee turnover can be as much as 1.5 times the position’s annual compensation.
At the Niagara Health System Kevin Smith, the government appointed supervisor, noted in his interim report the difficulty the regional hospital system faces in recruitment and retention, estimating a 5.7 per cent annual rate of turnover to 2019. That turnover is about equally divided between retirees and those who simply decide to resign and seek work elsewhere. That means about 1,750 staff will need to be replaced between 2013-2019. Seventy physicians will also need to be replaced over that period.
“There is intense pressure and frankly competition to attract the best and the brightest to any organization and the NHS is currently at a disadvantage,” Smith notes.