The following is a letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on November 24, 2021, as a follow-up to a previous letter, sent September 21, 2021.
November 24, 2021
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada
Subject: Follow-Up Request for Meeting on Health Care Priorities
Dear Prime Minister:
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), the national voice of close to 200,000 nurses and nursing students, renews its appeal to you to call an urgent meeting to discuss critical priorities facing our nation.
The CFNU wrote to you on September 21, requesting that the federal government convene a discussion among health care leaders from across the country to address the most pressing issues challenging our system, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing shortage of health care professionals and the future sustainability of Canadian health care.
Nurses are straining under the weight of crushing workloads, routine workplace violence and concerns about inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE), resulting in a situation that poses serious risks for their mental and physical well-being, along with the health of those for whom they provide care.
In our previous correspondence, we cited two nationwide CFNU-commissioned studies undertaken pre-COVID-19, that revealed the extent of the problem, with 83% of nurses reporting that regular core health staff was insufficient to meet patient needs and over 90% of nurses experiencing symptoms of burnout. Furthermore, a staggering 60% of nurses indicated that they intended to leave their jobs within the next year.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Canadian nurses’ average weekly overtime hours increased by 78%, resulting in a further deterioration of working conditions and contributing to the ongoing erosion of our health care system by driving more nurses out of their jobs and the nursing profession altogether.
As the pandemic has so clearly proven, nurses are the lynchpin of Canadian health care, and they are crying out for help from our federal, provincial and territorial governments.
The impossible conditions they face are aggravating a health workforce crisis that threatens the very foundations of our health care system and our ability to provide high-quality care to current and future generations of people in Canada.
Federal leadership is essential to bring about the transformative change that is so urgently needed in Canadian health care.
At this critical juncture, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions once again calls on the federal government to bring together health care leaders from across the country for a strategic policy discussion to directly address the dangerous crisis facing our health care system.
We look forward to a fruitful and collaborative dialogue that will ultimately benefit the health of everyone in Canada.
Linda Silas, CFNU President
The Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health
Yvette Coffey, President, Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador
Janet Hazelton, President, Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union
Paula Doucet, President, New Brunswick Nurses Union
Barbara Brookins, President, Prince Edward Island Nurses’ Union
Vicki McKenna, President, Ontario Nurses’ Association
Darlene Jackson, President, Manitoba Nurses Union
Tracy Zambory, President, Saskatchewan Union of Nurses
Heather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta