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Canada saw the month the proportion of nurses working paid overtime was at its highest level for the month of July, 2022 since comparable data became available in 1997, Labour Force Survey showed.

The seventh wave of Covid hit which hit Canada in the month of June and July saw absences among nurses due to illness or disability were somewhat above the average seen in the years before the pandemic. 

Hospitals across the country reported COVID-19 infections among staff causing labour shortages. Due to shortage, hospitals also had to forced to reduce some services, including temporarily closing some emergency rooms. Meeting the demand for labour can be particularly challenging if workplaces face high levels of absences among existing employees. 

In July 2022, 11.2 percent of nurses who were employees were off sick for at least part of the week, 2.8 percentage points higher than the average of 8.4 percent seen in July from 2017 to 2019.

The solution applied by hospitals during such a time was increasing the unmet labour demand by scheduling more employees to work extra hours.

In July, 7.8 percent of nurses who were at work worked 49 or more hors during the LFS reference week, a higher proportion than one year earlier (7.3%) and well above the average level observed in the month of July from 2017 to 2019 (5.4%). For more information on workers who usually work long hours, see "Long working hours, 1976 to 2021," part of the Quality of Employment in Canada publication.

Nursing vacancies in early 2022 were more than triple (+219.8 percent) the level of five years earlier, illustrating the extent to which longer-term trends may be contributing to the current challenges facing hospitals and other health care employers, the survey showed.

While LFS recorded an employment increase of 30,000 (+8.8 percent) in professional occupations in nursing from December 2020 to December 2021, this was not sufficient to meet rising labour demand. The Job Vacancy and Wage Survey reported 23,620 vacant nursing positions in the first quarter of 2022. The employment declined in June and July occurred despite continued strong labour demand in the industry. According to the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, there were 143,400 job vacancies in health care and social assistance in May, up 20.0 % (+23,900) from May 2021.

“More than one in five 21.6 percent employees working in professional occupations in nursing and who were not absent from work completed paid overtime hours in July, more than double the proportion for all other employees who were at work (9.7%) and up 2.2 percentage points compared with July 2021 (three-month moving averages, not seasonally adjusted)," the LFS survey showed.

Apart from this, Canada's economy unexpectedly lost jobs for the second month in a row in July after a year-long boom, but analysts predicted that this would not stop the Bank of Canada from hiking interest rates to fight inflation.

Statistics Canada on Friday reported 30,600 positions were shed while the unemployment rate stayed at a record low 4.9 percent.

The data marked the second consecutive month of relatively moderate losses. Between May 2021 and May 2022, the economy added 1.06 million jobs as the recovery from COVID-19 took hold.

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