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Ontario will deploy internationally educated nurses to hospitals dealing with staffing shortages

Ontario will deploy internationally educated nurses to hospitals and long-term care homes facing staffing shortages due to COVID-19.

Health Minister Christine Elliott made the announcement on Tuesday while speaking about health-care capacity, saying international nurses who have applied to practice in Ontario "will have the opportunity to meet their applications requirements by working in health-care settings under the supervision of a regulated health-care provider."

Elliott said more than 1,200 applicants have already expressed interest and will be matched with hospitals and long-term care homes later this week.

She said Ontario currently has 600 intensive care beds still available, with an additional 500 beds available if required.

According to the government, the median stay in intensive care for a COVID-19 patient is currently seven days, compared to 20 days during the peak of the Delta wave.

The highly infectious Omicron strain has been driving up staff shortages across essential sectors including hospitals even as admissions have steadily risen.

On Monday, William Osler Health System announced it would close the urgent care centre at a Brampton facility until Feb. 1 due to increasing pressures in emergency departments, "further compounded by our extreme capacity and staffing pressures."

They said the closure would "help to direct the highly skilled staff and physicians to where demand is the greatest."

Hospitals and paramedic services elsewhere have also reported strains on service due to the Omicron wave.

Surgeries deemed non-urgent have also been paused for at least three weeks to free up hospital resources -- affecting between 8,000 and 10,000 scheduled procedures weekly.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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