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Our Story

The milestones and victories that have shaped the CFNU

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Union (CFNU) is often described as an organization that is small but mighty – and no, we are not just describing our fearless leader, President Linda Silas. Over the past 14 years under Silas’ leadership and the critical guidance of our National Executive Board, we have moved health care advocacy forward by advocating on behalf of our nearly 200,000 members and championing evidence-based policy.

Over the years, our specific goals and deliverables may vary, but our strong guiding principles remain the same.

We are the active voice of Canada’s unionized nurses.

We are strong advocates of public health care in all its forms.

We are relentless defenders of the health and safety of nurses and the patients that we care for.

These themes are evident in all of the work that we do. We are honoured to share just some of the work and priorities that continue to make us the robust organization that we are today, and one that nurses from coast to coast can feel proud to belong to for generations to come.

Evidence-based research is the foundation of the work that we do.

We are highly respected among health stakeholders, policy-makers, and the labour movement for the quantity and quality of the research work that we do. We are proud of the work that we have done, and continue to do, in order to inform and influence policy change at the federal level.

We work with respected academics and experts from across the country to provide evidence-based information on the important issues that nurses and patients face.

Workplace Health and Safety

Nurses are on the front lines, caring for patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Over the years, we have faced challenges where nurses across Canada have walked into work fearing for their health, safety and lives. The CFNU continues to work diligently to make workplace health and safety a top priority of the organization. We know that there is still work to do. We believe that no worker should ever walk into work fearing for their safety, and we will continue to fight for healthy workplaces for Canada’s nurses.

Over the years we have fought for workplace health and safety policy changes to keep nurses safe at work. Our successes include:

Political action

The CFNU is recognized in Canada and abroad for turning research into action, and using evidence to influence policy change. Over the last 14 years, Canada’s nurses have enjoyed a proud tradition of engaging with parliamentarians, premiers, ministers of health, and policy-makers of every political stripe.

Time and time again, polling results show that nurses are one of the most trusted spokespersons in health care. Herein lies one of our greatest strengths and responsibilities nurses have, and we must continue to advocate for strong patient care and better, broader health and well-being for nurses across Canada. In addition to participating in annual Federal Budget consultations, providing testimonies at Standing Committee on Health (HESA), we have established a tradition of hosting multiple CFNU events throughout the calendar year to present the latest evidence and research findings from world-renowned health and policy experts to key decision makers.

As the saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, Canada’s nurses would agree. This CFNU hosts regular breakfast briefings for various levels of government and, in addition to the food, we also serve up the facts that we hope will fuel federal and provincial policy change in order to enhance our public health care system. These include:


A recurring theme for Canada’s nurses, in both our research papers and consultations with governments, is our push for a national Pharmacare plan. We believe that this is the missing piece to our publicly funded health care system in Canada.

Canada’s nurses and nursing leaders take a strong position that no person living in Canada should ever have to choose between feeding their family and filling their prescription.

We have been fighting for a national Pharmacare strategy since the 1990s, publishing papers in 2004, 2010 and 2015 that brought awareness to what Canada is facing without Pharmacare: one in 10 Canadians can’t afford their prescriptions. Billions are wasted without Pharmacare, while fiscal cuts mean layoffs for nurses. We are proud to have brought Pharmacare into the national conversation, earning the support of partners like the Canadian Labour Congress in late 2016 as well.

The Work Continues

Today, we continue our advocacy work alongside our members and supporters across the country. To learn more about current campaigns for national pharmacare and the work being down to stop workplace violence, visit our campaigns section.

When Canada’s nurses identify a gap, the issue becomes a passion. We are proud to have accomplished so much through our National Executive Board, members, staff and supporters.

Let’s continue this great work together. Please visit our Speak Up page to help us make even more progress.