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Canada was already desperately short of nurses before COVID-19. Now nurses say they’re hanging on by a thread


When the Clinton Public Hospital emergency department had to close its doors on the August long weekend because it didn’t have enough nurses to operate, Holly Braecker was embarrassed.

“I mean, we work so hard, and it felt like we kind of let the community down that day,” said Braecker, a registered nurse who, four years into her career, is one of the newer staff members in the small rural hospital about 80 kilometres north of London, Ont., near the shores of Lake Huron.

“You don’t see emerg departments closing for a day. So for us to be kind of the first — well, that I’ve ever heard about — is embarrassing. That put us on the radar, and not in a good way.”

With a small pool of six or seven registered nurses to pull from, the workload routinely spills over the four 12-hour shifts she and her colleagues are supposed to work each week. When White Coat, Black Art visited the hospital on Sept. 3, Braecker had worked every day that week.

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