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April 16, 2024

Budget 2024 brings healthy wins but falls short on fairness for nurses and patients

Federal Budget
Media Release

Silas: Federal leadership needed to make nursing jobs the best in our communities

April 16, 2024 (Ottawa, ON) – Canada’s nurses are encouraged by the federal government’s commitments in Budget 2024 to invest in healthy communities, including a national school food program, housing initiatives and pushing forward pharmacare implementation.

“Health is connected to every facet of our lives, from access to nutritious food to safe and appropriate housing. We know the role social determinants of health play in everyone’s health, and today the federal government made key commitments to help create healthy communities – something nurses, their families and their patients will all benefit from,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU).

“As leading advocates for a public, universal, single-payer and national pharmacare program over the past two decades, nurses are thrilled to see a long-awaited investment through Budget 2024 toward implementing pharmacare, starting with contraceptive and diabetes coverage,” continued Silas.

“We also applaud the federal government for investments into more effectively integrating internationally educated health professionals into the workforce, combatting anti-Indigenous racism in the health care system, and supporting the mental health of Indigenous people and youth across the country.”

Silas expressed disappointment that Budget 2024 did not include funding for urgently needed retention initiatives geared towards stabilizing the staffing crisis that is plaguing health care systems across the country. Canada’s nurses pushed for the budget to include targeted and strategic supports such as a national nurse education fund, tax benefits for nurses working in hard-to-staff areas, and a plan to stop spending millions of public dollars on for-profit agencies taking money out of our communities.

Silas pointed to a new poll commissioned by the CFNU that revealed four in 10 nurses are considering leaving their jobs, with most citing high workloads and insufficient staffing levels as the top factors.

“Not only are nurses still looking for the exit sign, but our young nurses are regretting their career choice entirely, and half are looking to private agencies for the answer. Fairness, as our federal leaders spoke about today, means ensuring those young nurses have the mentorship and support they need. Fairness for patients means equitable and accessible health care. To achieve that, we need to value and retain our nurses,” explained Silas.

The recent bilateral agreements for health funding were a welcome step, but they lacked the teeth needed to ensure we can retain nurses inside our public health care system.

“The federal government has been on the right track, with innovative ideas like Health Canada’s Nursing Retention Toolkit, but we need our governments to work together to make these initiatives a reality,” said Silas. “This is not the time to back down. Canada’s nurses will continue pressing our leaders to work with us on real, lasting solutions to the health staffing crisis.”


The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing 250,000 frontline unionized nurses and nursing students in every sector of health care – from home care and LTC to community and acute care – and advocating on key priorities to strengthen public health care across the country.

For more information please contact Adella Khan, CFNU Communications,, 613‑807-2942.