Healthcare workers (HCWs) in Ontario, Canada have faced unprecedented risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been infected at an elevated rate compared to the general public. HCWs have argued for better protections with minimal success. A worldwide shortage of N95s and comparable respirators appears to have influenced guidelines for protection, which stand at odds with increasing scientific evidence. In-depth interviews were conducted with ten frontline HCWs about their concerns. They reported that the risk of contracting COVID-19 and infecting family members has created intense anxiety. This, in conjunction with understaffing and an increased workload, has resulted in exhaustion and burnout. HCWs feel abandoned by their governments, which failed to prepare for an inevitable epidemic, despite recommendations. The knowledge that they are at increased risk of infection due to lack of protection has resulted in anger, frustration, fear, and a sense of violation that may have long-lasting implications.


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Brophy, J., Keith, M., Hurley, M. & McArthur, J. 2020, 'Sacrificed: Ontario Healthcare Workers in the Time of COVID-19', New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, 30(4), pp. 267-281. https://doi.org/10.1177/1048291120974358

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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