Health Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Health Care System

Healthy Workplaces

Creating Healthy, Supportive, Learning Workplaces

The Canadian health care workforce is facing sustainability challenges that cannot be addressed by increasing the number of providers alone.  Instead, it will require making better use of existing resources and the creation of positive working environments that support the retention of skilled and dedicated health care workers.

Interprofessional Collaboration

Significant potential exists to improve the utilization of health human resources by clarifying professional roles and responsibilities and implementing more collaborative models of care.  Interprofessional collaboration has been linked with greater provider satisfaction, leading to enhanced recruitment and retention, and improved patient safety and outcomes.

Interprofessional collaboration in both education and health care delivery settings can be defined as working together with one or more members of the health care team who each make a unique contribution to achieving a common goal, enhancing the benefit for patients.  Each individual contributes from within the limits of their scope of practice.  It is a process for communication and decision making that enables the separate and shared knowledge and skills of different care providers to synergistically influence the care provided through changed attitudes and behaviours, all the while emphasizing patient- centred goals and values.

Healthy Work Environments

Improvements to the health of the workplace have been linked to a positive impact on the retention of the workforce, including reduced absenteeism and turnover. In addition, improvement in human resource practices and the work environment can lead to overall increased organizational efficiency and effectiveness, and improved patient care.

A healthy work environment can be defined as a work setting that takes a strategic and comprehensive approach to providing the physical, cultural, psychological and work conditions that maximize the health and wellbeing of providers, improves the quality of care and optimizes organizational performance.

Strategic Directions

The Pan-Canadian Health Human Resource Strategy supports the enhancement of working and learning conditions to maintain an experienced, dedicated workforce with the skills to provide high quality, safe and timely care by:

  • Increasing the accountability and performance monitoring for interprofessional collaboration and quality of worklife through the development of national indicators and standards, benchmarking and reporting;
  • Building capacity and supporting the uptake of interprofessional collaboration and healthy work environments; and
  • Strengthening the evidence of the economic and quality of care impacts of interprofessional collaboration and healthy work environments.

Accomplishments within the First Five Years of the Strategy

Achievements from the first five years of the Strategy (2003-2008), related to Healthy, Supportive Learning Workplaces, include:

Interprofessional Collaboration

  • supported the education sector in training health care professionals to work more collaboratively, including the development of a comprehensive model of Interprofessional Education for Collaborative Patient Centred Practice;
  • fostered the capacity of health professionals to work in an interprofessional approach;
  • identified interprofessional competencies, created teaching materials and developed faculty supports;
  • established an electronic clearinghouse and library; and
  • supported the creation of the Next link will take you to another Web site Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative (CIHC), an organization of champions who continue to build the evidence base, communicate results and work on the ongoing sustainability of interprofessional education and interprofessional collaborative practice.  

The challenge going forward is to ensure that there is congruence between what is taught and what is modelled in practice.  Future work will build on the foundation and momentum generated to ensure that interprofessional education is translated into collaborative patient-centred practice.  To this end, CIHC is redirecting its priorities towards skills and capacity-building of clinicians and health service delivery organizations.

Healthy Work Environments

  • developed supporting evidence that demonstrates the impact of healthy workplace interventions, including enhanced overall employee health and satisfaction, reduced absenteeism and workplace injuries and decreased associated costs;
  • improved awareness regarding the implications of healthy workplace environments on health workforce recruitment and retention, and its relationship to the quality of patient care;
  • collected evidence that highlighted leading practices and strategies to improve the health care work environment;
  • developed standard quality of worklife indicators to be used for national benchmarking purposes; and
  • supported the creation of the Next link will take you to another Web site Quality Worklife - Quality Healthcare Collaborative (QWQHC), a national multi-disciplinary coalition of healthcare leaders working together to improve the quality of worklife for Canada's healthcare providers to improve patient care.

Links and Resources

More information on related Health Canada funded projects can be found online in the Pan-Canadian Health Human Resource Strategy Annual Reports.

Interprofessional Collaboration

Healthy Work Environment