July 11, 2023 (WINNIPEG, MB) – Supporting nurses and health care workers to complete the recovery of our ailing health systems was the focus of today’s policy meeting between Canada’s premiers and nurse union leaders from across the country.
“Shifts that last 24 hours, overwhelmed ERs, dwindling access to care in rural areas – these are the realities of severe understaffing that nurses come face to face with every day,” said Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “As premiers focus on the critical work of solving Canada’s health care crisis, listening to and working with frontline health care workers is crucial to creating concrete and sustainable change. Nurses’ unions offered solutions to premiers today, and we’re ready to work with provinces to end this crisis.”
Canada’s nurses presented solutions to help alleviate the critical staffing shortage, speaking to premiers from Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Nunavut and Yukon, along with representatives from the Northwest Territories.
As provinces develop action plans to support bilateral agreements with the federal government, Silas emphasized the urgency of premiers meeting one-on-one with provincial nurses’ unions – the direct link to Canada’s frontline nurses. The CFNU is calling on premiers to use the recent increase to the Canada Health Transfer to bolster the nursing workforce by investing in strong retention initiatives, enabling a robust recovery of the country’s health care systems.
Canada’s nurses are proposing investments in key areas to address the nursing shortage and end the dire crisis in health care:
- Adopting minimum nurse-to-patient ratios
- Enacting legislation and regulations around safe hours of continuous work
- Strengthening mental health supports
- Supporting nurses across their careers through initiatives such as credentialing programs and flexible schedules
- Bolstering nursing programs to grow Canada’s workforce and supporting students with paid preceptorships
- Expediting registration and workforce integration for internationally educated nurses
“At the heart of this crisis is a nursing shortage, and we need to see real change, not temporary band‑aids, to stop the exodus from the profession,” said Silas. “No more around-the-clock overtime to keep services open, no more lining the pockets of for-profit staffing agencies while committed full-time nurses suffer, no more neglecting nurses’ work-life balance. Governments and employers must work together to ensure health employers become the best employers in our communities. The conditions of work are the conditions of care, and we can’t just say it, we must act on it.”
The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing Canada’s frontline nurses in every sector of health care – from home care, to LTC, community and acute care, including nursing students – and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in the future of public health care.
For more information, please contact Adella Khan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 613-807-2942.