Low unemployment rate impacting health care in midwestern Ontario
Ultrasound wait times at hospitals in Kincardine and Walkerton are growing thanks to a shortage of ultrasound technologists.
“The biggest impact coming out of COVID after 20 months in the healthcare system, is the shortage of health human resources. Whether it’s ultrasound techs, lab techs, nursing staff, it’s everywhere,” said South Bruce Grey Health Centre CEO Michael Barrett.
Huron, Bruce, Perth and Grey counties have the lowest combined unemployment rate in Ontario at 2.8 per cent. Anything below three per cent is considered full employment, which makes November’s 2.8 per cent dangerously low.
That’s the message from Gemma Mendez-Smith, the executive director of the Four County Labour Market Planning Board, who says over 2,000 jobs are currently going unfilled in the four counties.
“When we have that many jobs going unfilled, now we have to start thinking about the impact on businesses and the impact on our community. Can these businesses continue doing what they’re doing, and if they can’t, what are the decisions that are impacted by low unemployment?” she questions.
At the four hospitals that make up the South Bruce Grey Health Centre in Walkerton, Kincardine, Chesley and Durham, it means longer wait times for ultrasounds, patients travelling further for appointments, even, using CT scan’s instead of ultrasounds, to move along diagnoses.
“The shortages we’re experiencing are making it challenging to provide the level of service we have provided in the past. So we’re looking at how we can do business differently,” said Barrett.
If well-paying health care jobs are going unfilled, there’s not much optimism that unfilled jobs in the lower paying retail and restaurant sector will be filled anytime soon.
“If we don’t think about how we’re going to retain people in our community, we may not even try to enter an attraction strategy,” says Mendez-Smith. “It costs us to attract individuals to our businesses, to our communities, so then what are we willing to invest to keep people here."
You can see the multitude of jobs across every sector available in Huron, Perth, Grey, and Bruce County, by visiting www.connect2jobs.ca.