The CFNU Logo
October 13, 2023

CFNU encouraged by health ministers’ commitment to retain and support nurses

Health Human Resources
Media Release

Silas: Health ministers heard our message loud and clear – we must stop spending money on costly private staffing and invest in committed, permanent nurses.

October 13, 2023 (Ottawa, ON) – Canada’s nurses unions are encouraged by governments’ collaborative commitments to bolster the health care workforce, following this week’s productive meetings in P.E.I.

“Repairing our public health care system starts with supporting the workers – the nurses and health care practitioners providing care on the front lines,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “It’s encouraging that ministers heard and understood nurses’ concerns and are committed to addressing workplace challenges and creating environments where nurses and patients can thrive.”

Phasing out overreliance on costly private nurse staffing agencies and addressing excessive hours of work for nurses were two key strategies nurse union leaders brought to ministers at CFNU’s policy briefing in Charlottetown.

“Skyrocketing spending on private nursing agencies shows how for-profit schemes fail nurses, patients and our public health care system as a whole. Ministers showed this week that they understand the importance of reining in private agencies, and the solution is clear: retaining our committed, permanent nurses and stabilizing the workforce,” Silas said.

With this year’s increase to the Canada Health Transfer and funding from the bilateral agreements, the CFNU has been calling on governments to collaborate on bolstering the nursing workforce by investing in proven retention initiatives, enabling the robust recovery of the country’s health care system.

“The challenges facing our public health care system are nationwide, but they are far from insurmountable,” Silas said. “With federal, provincial and territorial governments at the table with unions and employers, we can strategically tackle key challenges facing our workplaces by implementing strong retention initiatives, better data and planning, safe nurse-patient-ratios, enhanced mental health services, ethical recruitment of internationally educated nurses, supporting nursing students, and phasing out private staffing agencies.”

Silas emphasized the importance of governments acting quickly to turn commitments to the health workforce into concrete changes on the front lines.

“Nurses and health care workers across the country need this light at the end of the tunnel, and they need to see these conversations become a reality,” said Silas. “Collaboration between governments, employers and the front lines remains critical to creating positive change. As Canada’s nurses unions, we’re ready to champion better working conditions and tackle the challenges facing our health care systems together.”


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.