Strategies for Creating High-Quality Health Care Workplaces in Alberta

Keynote presentation at the Health Authorities Conference 2004, "Beyond Boundaries: Leading Health Care in Alberta." Edmonton, Alberta. March 15 – 16, 2004.

Human resources are the weakest link in the health care system. That’s because inadequate attention has been given to the ‘soft’ people issues that matter most in providing quality health care – issues like morale, trust, respect, communication, learning and engagement. As the Mazankowski Report recommended, attracting and retaining health providers depends on improving staff morale and satisfaction. Yet, health human resource planning still narrowly targets labour shortages, leaving aside equally important work environment challenges. Now is the time to broaden the scope of our thinking about health human resources and create a comprehensive strategy for renewing health care workplaces and working relationships in Alberta. The long-term sustainability of the system rests on a simple principle: quality workplaces enable staff to provide quality care. So Alberta needs its own vision of what a high-quality health care workplace looks likes and an action plan for achieving and sustaining those conditions for all health providers. It is urgent that Health Authorities take leadership on this agenda.