Advocacy for the MRT profession at the provincial level, with government and other stakeholders, is an important function of a provincial association. CAMRT-ATL endeavors to identify and address advocacy needs related to the most pressing issues for the MRT profession in the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador.
CAMRT-ATL has met with a number of government officials in the past months. Our focus has been on a number of key issues:
Health Human Resource Crisis and Adequate Staffing: Provincial statistics have shown that over the last 10 years, the volume of imaging and therapy appointments has grown dramatically, but there has not been a matching rise in MRT numbers. Extension of hours has been a short term solution but it is not a long term one. The issue is proving that departments and clinics have been woefully understaffed for years, and that the typical metric of vacancy rates is not the best to use. To match the demand for service, the number of positions has not been enough for quite some time. Therefore, vacancy rates do not show the whole picture. CAMRT-ATL has been advocating for increased MRT positions in departments to sufficiently meet demand.
Recruitment and Retention: CAMRT-ATL has been reiterating the necessity to include MRTs in any and all retention efforts. The areas of Radiation Therapy and Diagnostic Imaging are expanding. Currently there needs to be retention efforts to keep the staff that are there, and recruitment to gain additional staff to fill positions. CAMRT-ATL has asked MLAs to include MRTs when advocating for retention incentives and recruitment initiatives.
Burnout: Statistics from the CAMRT Mental Health Survey show that the rates of burnout have risen in Atlantic Canada. Discussions have centered around the emotional burden from the work MRTs do, the volume professionals are expected to deal with, and how the pandemic heightened that. CAMRT-ATL is advocating that governments recognize and include the MRT profession in their deliberations on this healthcare system-wide problem, and that resources given to other professions are given to MRTs as well. We were very pleased when the New Brunswick Health critic, M. Jean-Claude D’Amours, took the time to stand up in the legislature to voice these MRT concerns directly to the health minister.
Response to Current Issues
CAMRT-ATL is committed to responding quickly to the issues that matter to Atlantic MRTs. Thanks to our members, we have been alerted to various news items related to MRTs and we have been able to respond in the media.
CBC New Brunswick released an article: Horizon Health working overtime in March to clear MRI, mammogram backlog talking about the use of overtime to lessen the wait times in the province. While in the short term, overtime can be used, it should never be considered a long term strategy. CAMRT-ATL issued a Press Release . From that CAMRT-ATL interviewed by CBC and was featured in a follow up article: New Brunswick medical imaging technologists suffering from pandemic burnout.
CAMRT-ATL was interviewed by CTV News Atlantic On December 7th regarding the shortage of Radiation Therapists in New Brunswick (Advocates speak out about radiation therapist shortage in New Brunswick) as well as The Telegraph Journal (Cancer patients face longer wait times for radiation: Liberals) about the issue.
Hearing from other MRTs in the province that are facing shortages, CAMRT-ATL was quick to issue a formal Press Release regarding the Saint John situation specifically, but also highlighting shortages in the disciples of diagnostic imaging. From that press release, CAMRT-ATL was interviewed by a Acadia Broadcasting radio station Country 94.1. We were also interviewed by Global News on their evening news program.
Prince Edward Island
When Health PEI and the Government of PEI announced there would be a retention bonus initiative for select staff that did not include MRTs, we sprang into action. CAMRT-ATL sent a letter to Health PEI CEO as well as Minister Hudson, outlining that this is not only disappointing but demoralizing. We urged them to strongly reconsider the exclusion of this essential profession.
The Nova Scotia government announced in March of 2023 Retention Bonuses, Incentives for Nurses, Healthcare Workers While MRTs were outlined as one of the groups to receive a retention bonus in exchange for years of service, there were larger bonuses offered to nurses. CAMRT-ATL wrote a letter to Premier Tim Houston and Health Minister Michelle Thompson outlining that distinctions like these demoralize other health professions who are working equally as hard and who are just as important. We urged them re-examine retention programs to be more inclusive and asked for them to meet with MRTs to hear their stories.
Newfoundland and Labrador
CBC Newfoundland released an article: Flying to Toronto for cancer treatment because of staff shortage not an easy decision, says N.L. woman referring to the shut down of a LINAC due to inadequate staff at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre. CAMRT-ATL issued a Press Release and contacted CBC to outline the strain Radiation Therapists we under in the province. Due to the information given in the press release, CAMRT-ATL was interviewed by CBC and appeared in the article: Lack of radiation therapists will hurt N.L.’s cancer-care plans, says union. The CAMRT-ATL was also featured on CBC Newfoundland’s television news program Here and Now. The interview starts at 4:18.
CAMRT-ATL was contacted again at the beginning of 2023 by the Radiation Therapists of Newfoundland and Labrador when no changes in the staff shortage had occurred. Understanding that a main issue was pay parity with other Atlantic Canadian provinces, CAMRT-ATL sent a letter to the Minister of Health, Tom Osborne and Minister of Finance Siobhan Coady asking the government to integrate the existing market differential into the Therapists salary to achieve that parity.
From that letter, Manager of CAMRT-ATL , Jennifer Carey was invited to speak to this staffing crisis on (Newfoundland Television) NTV’s Evening News and again on NTV’s Issues and Answers weekly program. The story was also picked up by Saltwire.
During MRT week, for the first time, all four Atlantic provincial governments proclaimed November 5-11, 2023 as Medical Radiation Technologists week. You can view the proclamations below:
Hon Tom Osborne, Minister of Health and Wellness signing the Proclamation for Newfoundland and Labrador