Union calls on provincial government and all healthcare employers to urgently confront the primary cause of staffing shortages

Richmond Hill, Ontario — SEIU Healthcare, a union that represents over 60,000 members across Ontario’s healthcare system, released the results of a survey that shows more healthcare workers are leaving the system because of poor wages and working conditions than because of vaccine mandates.

A clear majority (54%) of healthcare workers said they are considering leaving the healthcare system in pursuit of a job in another sector.

The primary reason, according to 70% of respondents, is because of poor wages and unsafe working conditions.

Two-fifths (44%) have worked in the healthcare system for 15 years or more.

Less than ten per cent of workers have yet to be fully vaccinated, and of those, only 22% are considering leaving the healthcare system because of vaccine mandates.

3,038 workers answered the survey between October 15 and October 17, 2021.

“Poor wages and working conditions are 20 times more likely to be the reason for healthcare workers leaving the system than vaccine mandates. But vaccines are like the tip of the iceberg that captures all our attention. While we’re focusing on a very small percentage of healthcare workers who might in fact quit over vaccine mandates, we’re ignoring the bulk of the iceberg beneath the surface,” said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare. “Ontario’s health system is like the Titanic that is getting capsized by the lack of full-time jobs, by the lack of mental health support for workers traumatized by the pandemic, and primarily by low wages that deny this female dominated workforce the economic security needed to make ends meet for their families.”

Today’s crisis was sadly predictable. Two years ago, before the pandemic, SEIU Healthcare launched a digital and televised advertising campaign calling on Premier Ford to care about the worsening conditions in Ontario’s healthcare system. He didn’t listen to the voices on the frontline of care. Instead, Premier Ford’s government moved ahead with counterproductive wage restraints through Bill 124, cut inspections in long-term care, and permitted healthcare executives to double-down on an exploitative system that relies on precarious part-time employment to deny workers full-time jobs with benefits.

Tomorrow, SEIU Healthcare will respond to Premier Ford’s vaccine related letter to healthcare organizations with a list of actions to address the real health human resource crisis in Ontario.


SEIU Healthcare represents more than 60,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario. The union’s members work in hospitals, homecare, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province. www.seiuhealthcare.ca