While restrictions will be easing across Ontario next week, a local doctor is sounding the alarm on the pandemic's impact on the mental health of healthcare workers.

"In a recent national survey of healthcare workers, preliminary findings show significant impact on our workforce," said Dr. Sharon Bal, a Cambridge family physician, who spoke during Waterloo Region's COVID-19 update.

Dr. Bal said the preliminary findings are from surveys that were done during the third and fourth waves. The research is ongoing, but so far the study shows:

  • One out of four healthcare workers meet the criteria of PTSD.
  • Six out of ten healthcare workers report significant levels of depression.
  • Seven out of ten describe themselves as numb or detached from their surroundings.

"The pandemic has had far reaching impacts, this includes those moral injuries experienced at work," added Dr. Bal.

She noted healthcare workers have been immersed in difficult choices like telling someone their surgery is cancelled, delaying appointments, telling a patient they are not eligible for a life-saving vaccine quite yet, or enforcing no-visitor policies.

"More than one in four Canadian healthcare workers have considered leaving their profession due to this moral distress," said Dr. Bal.

"This may further stretch the system and may impact both retention and recruitment in the future."