November 3, 2023
Open Letter to Canada’s Premiers
Ahead of your meeting with fellow premiers starting on Sunday in Halifax, we wanted to reiterate the urgency behind taking bold and comprehensive action to address the nursing shortage crisis.
Nurses can only tolerate unhealthy and unsafe working conditions for so long, which is why such an alarming number have left their jobs in the public system to work for costly private agencies or have abandoned the profession altogether.
A couple of weeks ago, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) sounded the alarm on hospital staffing challenges during the pandemic and which are ongoing, including increased rates of potentially preventable harm to patients. Patient safety suffers when nurses are overworked and when there are insufficient numbers of them on the unit.
We are encouraged that significant time is devoted to discussing solutions to this crisis at the upcoming meeting of the Council of the Federation. However, in the absence of concrete steps presented to our members – who continue to sacrifice their own needs and well-being to serve our communities – countless more will jump ship in the weeks and months ahead.
We call on you to urgently finalize your province’s action plan, detailing the initiatives you will implement in support of nurses as part of the bilateral agreement you signed with the federal government early this year.
The retention of nurses must be prioritized in the action plan, as well as investments in recruitment from within our population. Siphoning human resources from underprivileged countries – which are experiencing their own staffing shortages – is not a sustainable, adequate or ethical solution to the crisis we find ourselves in.
Nurses’ unions remain committed to working closely with all provincial governments to help plan and implement leading practices and initiatives to address the punishing workloads of our members.
We continue to press all provinces to swiftly carry out the following actions.
We look forward to seeing your communique from next week’s meeting, and working with you on addressing the many challenges before us that require our urgent attention.
President Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Secretary-Treasurer Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
President Prince Edward Island Nurses’ Union
President Ontario Nurses’ Association
President Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador
President Manitoba Nurses Union
President Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union
President Saskatchewan Union of Nurses
President United Nurses of Alberta
President British Columbia Nurses’ Union
President Canadian Nursing Students’s Association