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Solutions Staffing Inc. helps Canadian hospitals and healthcare organizations create the flexible staffing arrangements needed to address today's rapidly changing healthcare needs!


Changing Healthcare Needs in Canada

Staff recruitment and retention issues continue to dominate Canadian healthcare discussions. As the Canadian workforce ages, healthcare organizations are struggling to attract enough new recruits to replace them.

We're all aware that the numbers of Baby Boomers retiring will far outnumber those in the workforce. O'Brien-Pallas and colleagues estimated that even if RNs kept working to age 65 – and most do not – Canada could lose 13 per cent of its healthcare workforce by the end of 2006 (CNA, 2006).

The Canadian healthcare system is in transition and current forecasts predict a trend of increased staff shortages that will peak in 2011 and continue well into the next decade. The current shortage of healthcare workers, absenteeism, cost constraints and increased complexity of patients is compromising healthcare facilities' ability to provide quality patient care. "Research has made it clear that problems with nurses work and work environments, including stress, heavy workloads, long hours, injury and poor relations with other professionals can affect their physical and psychological health" (Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, 2001, p.3). This is reflected in the fact that absenteeism among RNs is 58 per cent higher than the average Canadian full-time worker. Nearly 10,000 full-time-equivalent positions were taken up with absenteeism in 2005 (CNA, 2006).

"Healthcare employers must look beyond immediately recruitment and retention challenges, adopting a longer term assets view of the healthcare workforce. From this perspective, while filling immediate staff shortages and engaging in succession planning remains critical, equal attention must be given to maximizing the development and utilization of existing human resources" (Lowe, 2002, p.49).

Utilizing temporary nursing or other healthcare staff allows healthcare facilities to augment current staffing recruitment and retention initiatives. Furthermore, it offers support to current permanent staff by allowing for additional (and more flexible) coverages for vacation, sick time and educational pursuits.

This flexibility prevents burnout, injuries and decreases overtime costs. Employees who feel supported in their current roles become more engaged in their duties, more dedicated to improvements, and tend to remain longer in their respective positions.

Recent research suggests an almost perfect correlation between overtime and sick time; furthermore, overtime is highly predictive of increased lost-day injury claim rates among nurses.
(O'Brien-Pallas, Thomson, Alksnis & Bruce, 2001; Shamian, O'Brien-Pallas, Kerr, et al., 2001)

The effect of workload and overtime on nurses' health is clear. In any given week, more than 13,000 Registered Nurses – 7.4% of all Registered Nurses – are absent from work because of injury, illness, burnout or disability. According to Canada's Labour Force Survey, that rate of absenteeism is 80% higher than the Canadian average – 8.1% for nurses, compared with a 4.5% average among 47 other occupational groups.
(CLBC, 2002)

– Final Report of the Canadian Nursing Advisory Committee - Health Canada


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