Kyle Diaz wears many hats: he is an ICU nurse and lab nurse who also works as an educator for multiple critical care programs in the Greater Toronto Area.

Kyle says staffing levels have become “horrendous” over the last few years, and “everyone is working more with less.”

With mounting patient loads and insufficient staffing, working conditions have become so intense that Kyle went three years without taking a vacation.

“You can imagine what that does to an individual, both mentally and physically, when working under the conditions of COVID,” he says.

He worries about the sustainability of the current work force and strategies to sustain nursing. As senior staff retire, move down to part-time or casual work, or simply move provinces, Kyle says their valuable knowledge and expertise are being lost.

“It is left to the newer generations of staff who have less than five years of experience to mentor and teach new grads, which is not safe at all,” Kyle says.

Even when new grads have been trained, retaining them has become a challenge.

“I've trained critical care nurses and within six months to two years of them hiring, I've already been asked for multiple references for positions that are contract work or travel work outside of the province ofOntario,” he says. “If government and employers are willing to pay agency rates of double or triple the salary of their current staff, why is it so hard for them to pay their regular staff, the regular full-time staff, the regular part-time staff, the same rate?”