Lobby Day 2021
For over a decade, CSMLS has been organizing Lobby Day (formerly known as Day on the Hill, a one-day government relations blitz where volunteer members and staff descend upon Parliament Hill in Ottawa to meet face-to-face with Members of Parliament. These meetings were incredibly effective in conveying the urgency of our call to action, specifically around health human resource shortages. Over the years, these meetings have resulted letters of support for research funding, opened doors to meetings with the Prime Minister's Office and established CSMLS as a source of information regarding laboratory and health care matters.
With the past results, it was difficult to cancel the plans for the 2020 Lobby Day. Travel was limited, and MPs were no longer taking in-person meetings. While Lobby Day was cancelled, advocacy efforts continued. At that time, media inquiries coming into the office had increased dramatically and our team focused on delivering quality information to the media, and in effect the public, to better understand laboratory testing and the impact our members were having on patients.
In the midst of the flurry of media activities, we were still reaching out, collaborating and discussing issues with governments across the country. Specifically, meeting with provincial Ministries of Health who were working through decisions that would impact laboratory services.
Now, in 2021, we have re-invented Lobby Day to fulfil our advocacy plan and make it virtual. Like almost everything in this pandemic, we have pivoted and have been pleased with astounding results. With the increased flexibility that virtual meetings offer, we were able to expand Lobby Day into a Lobby Week. During the week of May 3, 2021, 13 CSMLS volunteers and staff held meetings with 38 government officials. The virtual experience allowed us to target MPs and match them with member constituents easily. It also provided a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere as our volunteers were no longer running across downtown Ottawa to get to several back-to-back meetings.
During these virtual meetings, our lobby team introduced and reiterated our key concerns, all related to the health human resource shortage in Canada:
- The increased demand for laboratory testing
- The shortage of medical laboratory technologists
We also outlined the multi-pronged approach we champion to addressing these issues:
- Increasing the supply of new medical laboratory professionals by expanding domestic educational programs
- Increasing sustainable funding for better integration of internationally educated MLTs into the Canadian workforce
- Better serving rural and remote communities via financial incentives and student loan relief for MLPS, similar to those offered to other health care professionals
- Investing in laboratory infrastructure to meet both current and future needs, ideally through a partnership between Federal and Provincial governments
From that point of understanding, some MPs were open to next steps and action items, to which we provided four action points:
- Add their voice of support towards a stable future for medical laboratory testing in Canada by committing to be an advocate for MLAs and MLTs going forward.
- Schedule a laboratory tour in their constituency or region to learn firsthand about the important role that laboratories play in our healthcare system.
- Encourage the government to introduce our recommendations through legislation or other policy measures that combat the serious shortage of medical laboratory technologists across Canada.
- Bring our key requests to their election platform committee to show Canadians they advocate for the lab and their health during the next election.
Our next steps, like in all lobbying efforts, are to follow up on these requests and provide more information when needed. Lobbying is a long-term effort and requires the time, respect and investment into building relationships. We are willing to make those investments on behalf of our members and the entire laboratory community.
Lobby Day 2019
The CSMLS Board of Directors and staff continued the Lobby Day tradition of heading to Parliament Hill to advocate for the national medical laboratory profession.
On April 30, we had 37 meetings with policy advisors, senators and members of parliament to discuss the initiatives by which we can address the shortage of medical laboratory professionals in the country. In addition, CSMLS CEO Christine Nielsen and CSMLS President Maria Klement held a press conference on Parliament Hill to further promote our cause to government representatives.
We disseminated our messaging that increasing the supply of new medical laboratory professionals, serving our rural and remote communities as well as maximizing the use of the existing labour force will help to solve the looming health human resource shortage in Canada.
We recognize that while health care is a provincial system, federal support is also necessary to secure the future outlook of the profession. This is why we will continue to talk about issues in the medical laboratory profession with government representatives at all levels.
Lobby Day is necessary every year to ensure decision-makers know and understand our message; after all, government offices are likely to change when there is an election, and it’s crucial that these new representatives know who you are and why your profession matters.
At the same time, we need to continue strengthening our relationships with the government representatives who already know who we, CSMLS, are – because we have a relationship with them already, they are quick to ask us, “What can I do to help?” This willingness of government representatives to do what they can to make a positive difference in your work lives is a great thing, and we want to continue to foster their interest in the profession for years to come.
Lobby Day 2018
On April 17, CSMLS journeyed to the nation’s capital city for our annual Lobby Day, where we continued to advocate for the medical laboratory profession in Canada.
While there, CSMLS Board of Directors and staff met with members of parliament and three senators on Parliament Hill to foster awareness and discuss potential solutions to challenges in the field, including the ever-growing scarceness of medical laboratory professionals in Canada, especially in rural and remote locations.
CSMLS acknowledges that increasing the seat capacity of national training programs is necessary to ensure the future longevity of the medical laboratory profession. Because program student intake is dependent on the availability of corresponding clinical placements, CSMLS discussed enhanced simulation education models to increase the supply of new lab professionals.
In addition, the need for laboratory testing is on the rise, especially in Ontario. There was an almost four per cent per year increase in lab tests between 2005 and 2010.
Although health care is a provincial system, CSMLS recognizes the future outlook of the medical laboratory profession relies partially on the support from federal politicians. As such, CSMLS will continue to present issues to the government on the Hill for years to come.
Lobby Day 2017
Lobby Day 2016
April 19, 2016: As part of an ongoing effort to advocate for the medical laboratory profession, CSMLS took its message to Ottawa for the annual Lobby Day on April 19, 2016.
CSMLS recognizes the need to consistently foster our government relations to inform political decision-makers about the profession and this effort is paying off. With every annual visit, CSMLS and the medical laboratory community are becoming more familiar and recognizable to MPs.
Entering 2016, CSMLS is faced with lobbying a new government with many new faces on the Hill. In addition to highlighting the vital role medical laboratory professionals play in Canada’s health care system, the team discussed the looming shortage of medical laboratory professionals and the strategies we would support to address the shortages. These strategies include:
- Increasing the number of new graduates by addressing the shortage of clinical placements.
- Better integration of internationally educated lab professionals into the Canadian workforce through long-term and sustainable funding for bridging programs.
- Including MLTs in the existing Canada Student Loans relief program to recruit MLTs to rural and remote communities.
CSMLS remains committed to informing both federal and provincial politicians that will bring our issues to the forefront of the government’s agenda.
November 22, 2016: As part of the ongoing effort to advocate for the medical laboratory profession, CSMLS headed to Ottawa on November 22 for a second Lobby Day in 2016. A group of CSMLS staff and volunteers headed to Parliament Hill to meet with Members of Parliament (MPs) to address the shortage of medical laboratory professionals in rural and remote areas.
CSMLS was organized into two meeting groups where they met with key stakeholders from different political parties, various ridings, and senior political staff. They heard a variety of opinions on the issue during their meetings. Some Parliamentarians were very interested in the message and would like to schedule a laboratory tour in the near future.
On the Ministerial staff level, Policy Advisors at Education and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Finance seemed to touch on a number of issues affecting the profession. ESDC appears to be a useful potential partner in the move to address some of the pressing issues CSMLS faces but the agreed method to do so is still very much in the discussion stage.
CSMLS will be heading back to Parliament Hill in April to continue discussions with federal decision makers.
Lobby Day 2015
On April 28, 2015, CSMLS volunteers, staff and members of the Board of Directors, headed to Parliament Hill to discuss critical issues of importance to the medical laboratory profession with political decision makers. The CSMLS team sat down with one Minister and 34 Members of Parliament (MPs) during face-to-face meetings – more than ever before – and met with another 22 parliamentarians and staffers during a reception hosted by CSMLS.
In addition to highlighting the vital role medical laboratory professionals play in Canada’s health care system, the CSMLS lobbying team discussed the looming shortage of medical laboratory professionals and possible strategies to address the shortages. These strategies included:
- Increasing the number of new graduates by addressing the shortage of clinical placements
- Better integration of internationally educated lab professionals into the Canadian workforce through long-term and sustainable funding for bridging programs
- Including MLTs in the existing Canada Student Loans relief program to recruit MLTs to rural and remote communities
CSMLS’s lobbying efforts were covered by several media outlets including, iPolitics, Laboratory Product News and Epoch Times. CSMLS remains committed to working with both federal and provincial decision makers to bring our issues to the forefront of the government’s agenda.
Lobby Day 2013
On April 23, 2013, CSMLS volunteers, staff and members of the Board of Directors, headed to Parliament Hill to discuss critical issues of importance to the medical laboratory profession with political decision makers. The delegates met with over 40 Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators during face-to-face meetings and a Parliamentary reception, to highlight the vital role medical laboratory professionals play in the maintenance of health and well-being of their constituents and all Canadians.
Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Liberal MP for St. Paul’s and a champion supporter, stopped by the group breakfast in the Parliamentary restaurant to help kick-start the day and commended the CSMLS for getting our messages across. Following breakfast, the delegates met with MPs from across Canada and all parties throughout the day.
New this year, MPs were provided with a CSMLS-branded USB key featuring detailed background information. They were also given a template letter to send to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development in support of CSMLS’ recommendation for rural loan relief. There is currently a federal loans forgiveness program for physicians and nurses choosing to move to rural and remote locations. CSMLS requested inclusion in this program for MLTs. This new feature was extremely well received amongst the MPs.
As part of its ongoing advocacy work, and following the advice and suggestions of many MPs, CSMLS remains committed to working with both federal and provincial decision makers to bring our issues to the forefront of the government’s agenda. During the day, CSMLS President, Heather Autio, held a press conference calling for the regulation of medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) in all jurisdictions. This vital step would enhance patient safety for all Canadians as regulation would define the scope of practice for these laboratory professionals, adopt a harmonized standard for entry to practice and set standards for continuing professional development.
The press conference was broadcast to every MP and Senator office and was viewed by Press Gallery bureaus, including the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC) and Global News.
The 2013 Day on the Hill was a success and CSMLS looks forward to building on the position relationships at the federal level and building on and expanding relationships at the provincial level.
Lobby Day 2012
In conjunction with National Medical Laboratory Week, key medical laboratory professionals met with Members of Parliament (MP) in Ottawa on April 24, 2012.
The delegates met with 30 MPs to discuss the medical laboratory profession and the vital role that medical laboratory professionals play in the maintenance of health and well-being of their constituents and all Canadians.
Following a group breakfast in the Parliamentary Restaurant, the delegates headed off to their face-to- face meetings to discuss three critical issues of importance to the profession:
1. The lack of MLTs in Rural Communities & Loan Forgiveness Programs:
A lack of financial support is a significant obstacle in recruiting new medical laboratory technologist graduates to rural areas. To ensure that all Canadians have access to quality health care, it is imperative to include medical laboratory
technology graduates in existing and new incentive programs aimed at recruiting and retaining health care professionals in our rural communities.
2. The looming Shortage of Medical Laboratory Technologists:
Canada is presently facing a nation-wide shortage of medical laboratory technologists (MLTs). CSMLS predicts that over 42 per cent of Canada’s medical
laboratory technologists will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years. The current supply of new graduates will not be sufficient to address the projected shortages.
To help address this shortage, CSMLS is calling on the Federal Government to invest in a national health human resource strategy for the medical laboratory profession.
3. The Health Care Team is more than Doctors and Nurses:
Canada’s health care system is not solely comprised of doctors and nurses. Medical laboratory professionals play a vital role in Canada’s patient care system,
generating over 440 million results each year. Doctors depend on laboratory test results to accurately diagnose and treat illness, as well as to monitor patient health.
Many of the MPs the delegates met with have offered their support and assistance with helping to get CSMLS’ message across to key decision makers. As a follow-up to last year’s letter-writing campaign, CSMLS will be providing a template letter for the MPs to send to the Minister of Health and the Minister of
Finance, outlining the CSMLS recommendation for rural loan relief. CSMLS will also continue working with MPs to coordinate laboratory tours in their ridings,
providing them with a hands-on experience and the opportunity to observe the conduct of medical laboratory professionals and the valuable work done for the
betterment of the health and wellbeing of Canadians.
During the day, CSMLS President Tricia VanDenakker and CSMLS Executive Director Christine Nielsen also held a press conference in the Charles Lynch
Room on Parliament Hill to urge support for the medical laboratory profession. The press conference was broadcast to every MP and Senator office and was viewed by Press Gallery bureaus, including CBC, Global News and the Lobby Monitor. A subsequent interview also took place with Radio-Canada conducted by Victoria Zaine in French.
CSMLS looks forward to continuing its advocacy efforts and outreach to key decision makers, to ensure that these critical issues are brought to the forefront of the government’s agenda.
Lobby Day 2011
As part of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science’s (CSMLS) overall advocacy efforts, key medical laboratory professionals headed to Parliament Hill on October 25th, 2011 to highlight key concerns related to the profession.
The day kick-started with a group breakfast in the Parliamentary Restaurant, where Dr. Colin Carrie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, surprised the group and did a quick drop-by to say hello. Dr. Carrie welcomed the group to Parliament Hill, congratulated CSMLS on the great job members are doing in their advocacy efforts, and urged them to continue, offering his help and support as we move forward.
Throughout the course of the day, participants met face-to-face with 30 Members of Parliament (MP), doubling the number from last year! Participants urged the Government of Canada to invest in a national health human resource strategy for the medical laboratory profession, consisting of key investments in three critical areas:
- Clinical education;
- The integration of internationally educated medical laboratory technologists; and
- Quality worklife initiatives.
As part of their key ask, participants asked each MP if they would be willing to write a letter to the Minister of Health on CSMLS’ behalf, in support of this strategy. The majority of MPs have offered their support and are happy to take part in the letter-writing campaign. Many MPs also provided positive feedback and requested key follow-up information on different initiatives, showing interest in helping to promote the profession.
Another key component of the day, CSMLS President Goldie Fagan and CSMLS Executive Director Christine Nielsen held a press conference in the Charles Lynch Room on Parliament Hill, where they reiterated CSMLS’ call to the Federal Government to take action and invest in a national health human resource strategy. The press conference was broadcast to every MP and Senator office and was viewed by Press Gallery bureaus, including CBC and Global News.
The 2011 CSMLS Day on the Hill was a great success, and participants are eager to move forward and continue building awareness and raising the profile of the profession. We will continue to make our voice heard!