Survey of B.C. health-care workers finds 1 in 3 likely to quit in next 2 years

Many health-care workers are at a "breaking point, exhausted by all they've been through," says the Hospital Employees' Union.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, a new poll finds health-care workers struggling with their mental health, and worried about their future. | FatCamera / E+ / Getty Images

A survey of B.C. health-care workers finds one in three is likely to quit the field.

The telephone survey of more than 800 members of the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) found 34.4 per cent likely to leave health care in the next two years.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the poll finds health-care workers struggling with their mental health, and worried about their future.

HEU secretary-business manager Meena Brisard says stress has taken its toll.

“There’s no question that many health-care workers are at the breaking point, exhausted by all they’ve been through,” Brisard said in a press release. “And we should all be very concerned about what that means for our health-care system going forward.”

Three-quarters of those polled (75.2 per cent) experienced pandemic-related burnout, and one in three (32.9 per cent) do not believe there are adequate mental health supports in the workplace.

Nearly two-thirds (64.1 per cent) say their workloads have become worse over the last two years.

Sounding a call for raises, Brisard said “health-care workers have carried the weight of this pandemic on their shoulders for all of us.”

“If we want our health-care system to survive and thrive in the face of public health emergencies, climate disasters and growing demographic pressures, we must act boldly to retain today’s skilled and experienced health-care workforce, and to attract the next generation of health-care workers,” she said.

The survey found more than a third (35.8 per cent) feel they are less financially secure than two years ago.

Contracts with the BC Teachers’ Federation, BC General Employees’ Union, HEU, Health Sciences Association and CUPE all expire at the end of the month.

Negotiations with the province have reportedly stalled.

The collective agreements cover about 393,000 unionized public sector employees, and rising inflation has become a key issue for the first time since the 1990s.