To all Providence staff and medical staff,

Last October, we asked you to participate in our ongoing quarterly Pulse Check Survey. We have been doing these check-in surveys for over a year and they are invaluable in giving us a sense of how you are feeling about your work and the care we provide.

We heard from 611 Providence staff and medical staff. Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer the questions and to share your feedback and experiences of working from July to October 2021.

Here’s what we heard:

  • 73% of staff and medical staff would recommend Providence as a place to work
  • 75% of staff and medical staff would recommend Providence as a place to receive care
  • 54% of staff and medical staff regularly reflect on our PHC Mission, Vision and Values when making important decisions and/or problem solve at work
  • 50% of staff and medical staff were able to balance their family and personal life with work.
  • For a more detailed summary of the Pulse Check survey results please click here: on connect.

I’d also like to thank those of you who took the time to provide the name of a colleague who has inspired you over the past year.  Praise from a peer is high praise indeed, and over 250 people from diverse roles and services were recognized for their positive impact on others.

We’ll continue to provide opportunities to recognise colleagues in future Pulse Check surveys – alternatively, you can send them a Values in Action badge on connect.

Working and receiving care at Providence

I appreciate again seeing the results and comments that you find Providence to be a special place to work, and one that you would recommend for those closest to you to receive care. This speaks to the hard work that we do day in and day out, during the most trying times, and that we care for each other. And I agree fully with your comments about the special culture of compassion we have here at Providence.

The written comments were especially important this time, and I appreciate how honest everyone was in talking about the tough issues we currently face.

Many of your comments expressed concerns about the safety and mental wellness of you and your colleagues.  You want us to ensure PHC people are well-supported to deliver compassionate care to the patients, clients and residents we serve.

I absolutely recognise the issues that you raise, and how challenging it is to look after ourselves, and our colleagues, in this time of unprecedented pressure on health care systems. As we enter year three of the global pandemic, I hear you and fully understand when many of you say that you are tired, exhausted or burnt out. These past two years have been new territory for us all – and the peaks and valleys of caseloads, variants and treatments are tiring and frustrating to navigate.

At Providence we can’t solve every problem, but there are things that we can and are doing.

Most importantly, if you need urgent help, we are here for you.  Please reach out to Tammy Akey, Director Occupational Health and Safety ( immediately and we will help.

These are some of the other actions that we have taken to support people at Providence:

  • Senior psychology residents from Adler University have been providing on-site and telehealth clinical psychological services to staff in the Critical Care suite, Emergency Department, Medicine, Urban Health and Mental Health units.
  • OH&S is working with Homewood Health, PHC’s employee and family assistance provider, to share widely resources available to PHC staff including articles, videos, courses, counselling services, including:
  • OH&S continues to provide ongoing consultation and support to all staff as required.
  • New provincial supports were launched for all direct care providers, including the Care for caregivers website with information, workshops and daily coping tips to help support good mental health for healthcare workers, and a 24/7 Phone line for healthcare workers: Call: 1-888-686-3022 or Email: information on provincial resources can be found here.

We also heard specific concerns about three general themes:

  1. Staffing levels
  2. Work/life balance
  3. Safety at some sites/areas

We are listening and are taking action to support you, and I wanted to take each of these themes in turn:

Staffing Levels

  • We all know that that there is a provincial, national and global shortage of health care workers so we need to make sure that Providence is a place where healthcare workers choose to work. Here are just a couple of examples of what we are doing to support appropriate staffing levels, and to attract and retain highly skilled people.
  • ​The new Health Care Aid Program (HCAP) has helped – and will continue to help – staffing levels in Long Term Care. In the first phase of this program, 85 students supported residents and staff in a non-clinical capacity as health care support workers. Now that many have finished the program – with more graduating this year – they join Providence LTC sites in a clinical capacity as health care aides. We will continue to expand this program.
  • Development for nurses working in-demand areas like the ICU and OR: This past year funding has increased for this and we have been able to go above our previous quota of PHC nurses enrolled in specialty education, developing the skills and knowledge that will help us for the future.
  • Weekly “SWAT” calls with leaders from Staffing, OH&S & Operations. This group meets weekly at minimum, and when needed to plan for the extra staffing resources needed during COVID, and up-staffing to help with increased patient load and coverage for staff who are off sick.
  • Looking forward, we have created a Recruitment & Retention Steering Committee. The initial focus of this group will be to implement immediate strategies to address the current staffing levels, including new transformational solutions. This also includes ensuring that there is an Indigenous lens and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lens brought to all strategies and decisions, and that approaches are culturally safe.

Work-life balance

Last October, 50% of respondents indicated that they have work-life balance, and another 29% replied with a neutral answer. Our aim is to ensure that everyone achieves this balance and I know how hard this is, particularly when a global pandemic seems to be seeping into every aspect of our lives.

Of course there is a crucial link with staffing levels – it’s hard to have a reasonable work-life balance if you are being asked to do high levels of overtime to keep services going, or you are worried about your team being short-staffed when you’re not there. So we need to get staffing levels right, but we are also working on increasing flexibility wherever possible, so that work can fit into your life and not the other way round.

We recognize that for those in health care, maintaining balance and wellness during a global pandemic will remain a challenge in the coming year, and that we need to continue to identify creative approaches. Supporting staff and medical staff wellness remains a top organizational priority and is reflected in our Mission: Forward 2022 strategic deliverables.


I hear and understand concerns about this very important issue.

Violence, and the threat of violence, continue to be a major issue in units such as the ED and other high-risk areas.

In response to the last pulse check survey, I provided an update on work already underway and expanding, including:

  • Monthly violence prevention training in medicine and other high-risk units.
  • Monthly Code White training and assessment/improvement of code white procedures in high-risk areas (i.e. LTC).
  • SPH ED Code White simulations are ongoing; train-the-trainer is ensuring sustainability. ​
  • There is also new work underway, including:
  • Work at St Paul’s Hospital to improve the physical environment, security and access.
  • Reviewing violence risk assessment and education compliance to identify gaps and take action.
  • Re-establishing unit specific meetings and a SPH site safety meeting, to ensure that we hear from staff about specific concerns and we’re able to discuss and action solutions.

I recognise that this is a complex issue and we haven’t solved it yet – but I wanted to assure you that we continue to focus on this and to consider novel ways to address this issue.

On a different aspect of staff safety – that of protection from Covid infection – we continue to encourage and support all staff to follow the provincial PPE guidelines. These include the discretion to choose to wear an N95 mask, based on a personal risk assessment – to maximise the effectiveness of this please do ensure that you attend an N95 mask fit testing session, which are scheduled on all sites in the next two months.

The next Pulse Survey is coming soon

A lot has changed in the past four months and I hope to hear from more of you in our next survey, which will launch next week. It is so important that you let us know how you are doing, especially as we look to enter the third year of navigating the pandemic. As always, I remain inspired and grateful for everything you do. You continue to make Providence a special place.