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December 20, 2023

Canada’s nursing shortage top of mind for Canadians, according to a new national public opinion poll

Silas: Based on their own experiences, Canadians know addressing the nursing shortage is key to restoring health care.

December 19, 2023 (OTTAWA, ON) – Canadians believe there’s a direct connection between the nursing shortage and the deterioration of health care in our country, according to a new poll from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.

More than 90 per cent of Canadians are deeply concerned about the nursing shortage, while 71 per cent believe it is essential to invest in supporting publicly employed nurses over spending on private agency nurses, according to the poll.

“The message from Canadians is clear. We can’t look away from the poor state of our health care system,” said Silas. “Each province needs to finalize their health funding agreements, which were promised almost a year ago, with the federal government. These agreements need to address the core issues causing nurses to leave the profession, including unsafe work hours, burnout and staffing shortages. The health of all Canadians depends on the well-being of our nurses.”

Close to 90 per cent of respondents recognized a direct relationship between the nursing shortage and the quality of health care in Canada. Meanwhile, Canadians pointed to high workload and stress (64 per cent), burnout and fatigue (62 per cent) and insufficient staffing (52 per cent) as the most pressing issues facing nurses working in Canada’s health care system.

Notably, 97 per cent of Canadians recognize the critical importance of nurses in the health care system, while only 13 per cent of Canadians strongly agree nurses are adequately compensated.

“The public’s voice is clear – they see the value nurses bring and the urgent need for significant changes,” Silas adds. “It’s time for actionable strategies, including improved work-life balance, safe nurse-to-patient ratios and other incentives to support our nurses.”

The Canada-wide survey of 3,000 Canadians was conducted by Crestview Strategy from November 21 to December 1, 2023. For more findings, click here.

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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 Charlie Crabb, CFNU Communications,, 613‑297-8274.