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In today's Morning Brief, nurse burnout is creating a 'vicious circle' as overtime increases and people flee the profession. Also, how to watch one of the best meteor showers of the year.
A nurse sits behind a sign that reads, ‘The whole world is short staffed. Be kind to those who showed up,’ in the Humber River Hospital emergency department on Jan. 13. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

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Overtime overload is creating a 'vicious circle' as nurses leave the profession

As emergency rooms in some parts of Canada reduce their hours due to staffing shortages, analysts warn the system is buckling. Data from Statistics Canada shows the rise in overtime among nurses predates the pandemic, and it has only gotten worse.

Further data indicates those nurses who do work overtime are clocking more hours. In July, the average nurse doing overtime worked nine extra hours, the highest that figure has been since the first months of the pandemic. 

While OT work among all health-care workers sharply increased after March 2020, the rate has since plateaued among non-nursing health-care workers. The proportion of nurses clocking extra hours, however, continues to climb.

Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses (CFN), said the reliance on overtime to fill staff shortages has had a detrimental effect on the profession. She said the lack of work/life balance drives many from full-time positions. "It's a vicious circle, but we have to stop it," she said. "We've been talking about the working condition, the poor working conditions of nurses, for 10, 15 years."

Silas said a lack of nurses was apparent before the pandemic, and now the need is even more acute. Already, in 2019, a third of registered nurses — who make up the majority of the nursing workforce — were over 50, with many close to retirement, according to the CFN.

A recent survey of the federation's members found 94 per cent of respondents were experiencing burnout. Younger nurses said they were more likely to leave the profession. Silas said many are tempted to leave full-time posts to work for agencies where they have a better schedule and pay. "What we need to do is to fix the workplace," she said. "We have to make sure there's flexibility that they can get a day off and that we have a safe nurse-patient ratio."

WATCH | Ontario throne speech acknowledges health-care crunch, but offers no new solutions:

Ontario throne speech criticized for lack of health-care solutions

2 months ago
Duration 2:45
The Ontario government acknowledged stresses on the health-care system and economy, but was the government was criticized for not offering any new solutions.

The amount of overtime required has been especially high in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, the data shows, when compared to the national average. 

"It's important to recognize that we have a problem and we need to fix it right away," said Sylvain Brousseau, head of the Canadian Nurses Association and a professor at the Université du Québec en Outaouais who researches the working conditions of nurses. He said the increased overtime is a symptom of a problem in the system: OT is now built into the managing structure at many hospitals. "When you don't fix the problem, people are leaving the health-care system," he said.

Find your place in the sunflowers

Visitors pose for a selfie in a sunflower field in Hokuto city, Yamanashi prefecture, Japan, on Tuesday. The city, known for having the longest hours of sunshine per year in Japan, draws tourists during its sunflower summer festival. (Shuji Kajiyama/The Associated Press)

In brief

Have you noticed 'tip creep'? Customers are increasingly seeing a gratuity option on card payment machines in industries where tipping was never previously part of the cost, from auto shops to fast food giants. The phenomenon is leaving a bad taste for some consumers, who have vented online about being asked if they want to pay an extra 15 per cent or more on top of the price of a takeout pizza, oil change or propane tank refill. "Tipping is spreading to a lot more places right now, so where we wouldn't have previously been prompted to tip, now it seems to be a lot more common," says Simon Pek, an associate professor at the University of Victoria's Gustavson School of Business who researches tipping practices. There's limited research into what is motivating more businesses and sectors to opt into tipping, but Pek suggests the pandemic and inflation are both likely factors. He expects tipping to creep into more and more businesses unless there is a wider public discussion about where, when and why we tip. Read more about tip creep here.

There are growing calls to outlaw non-disclosure agreements across the country as Hockey Canada and other sports organizations reel from sexual assault scandals. Non-disclosure agreements can prohibit sexual assault complainants from speaking publicly about their allegations in exchange for a settlement. University of Windsor law Prof. Julie Macfarlane, who has helped provinces draft legislation to prevent the abuse of NDAs, is advocating for the federal government to do the same. "There's no identification of the perpetrator and no consequences that are known," she said. "This gives them permission to continue to behave in the same way." The Minister of Sport, Pascale St-Onge, has spoken out against NDAs and said a review into funding for sports organizations will examine the issue. However, two lawyers who spoke with CBC News said a full ban on NDAs could limit some victims' options during negotiations. Toronto-based lawyer Howard Levitt says employers or companies would be unlikely to provide adequate settlements without them. "I can get a woman oftentimes $1 million-plus settlements," he said. "If there wasn't an NDA I'd get a tenth of that or less." Read more about NDAs here.

WATCH | Hockey organizations threatened to withhold funding from embattled Hockey Canada:

Hockey organizations threaten to withhold funding from Hockey Canada

2 months ago
Duration 2:16
While one provincial hockey federation is backing Hockey Canada’s response to the sexual assault controversy, others have threatened to withhold fees because of the scandal.

A London, Ont.-based trans activist who's popular on the online platform Twitch says she fears for her life after police officers arrested her at gunpoint. Clara Sorrenti, 28, says she was the victim of swatting — a practice involving someone calling in a threat to police, resulting in armed officers being sent to another person's home or work. "When I saw the police gun pointed at me, I actually thought I was going to die," she said. Sorrenti goes by Keffals on Twitch, where she has more than 42,000 followers and speaks about transgender rights. Sorrenti transitioned when she was a teen. "I get messages almost every day from trans people, especially young trans people, saying that I gave them courage, that they can be who they are," she said. "But people hate me and want to shut me up." On Aug. 5, she said, she was awoken by a number of London police officers banging on her apartment door. They produced a search warrant looking for a handgun, a computer and other items. London police said they were contacted on Aug. 5 by city hall officials about violent threats. "Ms. Sorrenti was arrested as the investigation progressed, and later released without charges pending analysis of electronic devices seized." The investigation is ongoing, police say. Read more about the story here.

Joe Biden is suddenly on a winning streak. Historically unpopular and derided for what critics said was an unaccomplished legislative record, the U.S. president on Tuesday signed two significant bills into enactment: an expansion of NATO, and funding for high-tech manufacturing. That's in addition to the most notable gun legislation in decades, infrastructure funding, a veterans' bill, and, perhaps, within days, an omnibus budget bill that includes drug-price controls and the largest federal climate plan in U.S. history. The bad news for Biden: he's still historically unpopular, his support drained by high inflation and disillusionment over heretofore unfulfilled promises. The good news: scholars who study presidents' legislative records now place his success rate in decent historical company. Read Alexander Panetta's analysis of Biden's successes and failures so far here

Now here's some good news to start your Wednesday: It's once again time for the Perseids, one of the best meteor showers of the year. The shower takes place from mid-July to the end of August, but peak viewing falls on the night of Aug. 12-13 this year, according to the International Meteor Organization. That's when Earth moves through the thickest part of the debris left over from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, with tiny pieces of particles burning up in our atmosphere at 59 kilometres a second. Read about how to best view the meteors here.

Opinion: Let down by Pride parade organizers, queer communities took charge

A Pride parade is at its essence a protest, not a bureaucratic event, writes Zahra Haider. Read the column here.

First person: Did I make a mistake by not investing in a house? 

Growing up, Lise Watson knew home ownership wasn't for her. But she worries about housing affordability as the future of co-ops like her own seems uncertain. Read the column here.

Front Burner: The latest on Canada's monkeypox outbreak

Monkeypox cases in North America continue to climb. Last week, the U.S. declared monkeypox a public health emergency. Here in Canada, the number of cases is approaching 1,000. The disease can be painful and the self-isolation period can be lengthy. Right now, men who have sex with men remain the most at risk of infection.

Today on Front Burner, Dr. Darrell Tam, a clinician scientist in the division of infectious diseases at St. Michael's Hospital and associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, discusses symptoms, transmission, treatment and the vaccine.

Today in history: Aug. 10

1840: Canada's first known balloon flight takes place in Saint John, N.B. Louis Anselm Lauriat of Boston, Mass., travels about 34 kilometres in his balloon Star of the East.

1876: Alexander Graham Bell makes the first long-distance call, from his residence in Brantford to Paris, Ont., 13 kilometres away.

1921: Franklin D. Roosevelt is stricken with polio while vacationing at his summer home on Campobello Island, N.B. The man who later became one of America's most memorable presidents was on holiday at his family cottage when he became feverish and his legs suddenly grew weak. He was 39 at the time.

1945: After the U.S. drops two atomic bombs on it, Japan announces its willingness to surrender and end the Second World War, provided Emperor Hirohito's status remains unchanged.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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