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September 9, 2022

Nurses call for immediate federal action to save Canada’s public health care system

Health Human Resources
Media Release
Nursing Shortage

Nurses need support, and they need it now.

September 9, 2022 (Saint Andrews, N.B.) – As the Liberal caucus gathers to discuss upcoming legislative priorities, a dire nursing shortage is pushing health care services to be reduced or closed in communities across the country, threatening the sustainability of the public health care system Canada holds dear.

With Parliament resuming September 19, Canada’s nurses are looking to the Liberal party for urgently needed federal leadership to strengthen the public health care system by addressing the critical staffing shortage and investing in nurses and health care workers.

“There is no greater priority than protecting patient care and our public health care system,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “This is the opportunity for the Liberals to prove to their constituents – and all of Canada – that they’re taking concrete action to solve the health care staffing crisis.”

Silas emphasized that health care advocates can offer solutions, and these solutions start with supporting and investing in health care workers.

“Patient care is suffering because governments have ignored the needs of health care workers for too long,” said Silas. “It’s time for our governments to work collaboratively on a pan-Canadian health human resources action plan, and ensure our public health care system is sustainable long into the future.”

Creating a national health workforce planning body is one crucial strategy to help end the staffing crisis, and help establish healthy and sustainable nurse-to-patient ratios. With a health workforce planning body to improve decision-making through enhanced workforce data and coordination, governments can ensure our public health care system meets the needs of all those living in Canada.

“The health care system is collapsing, and it is no longer working the way it should be,” said Sylvain Brousseau, president of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA). “Nurses and health care workers are leaving their profession in droves, while patients are not able to access the care they need, when they need it.”

Brousseau added that the situation is so dire that there is not one measure that will solve this crisis. There needs to be a multi-faceted strategy that addresses the many challenges that are plaguing the health care system, such as improving working conditions and retention incentives for nurses, facilitating the licensing of internationally trained health workers, increasing capacity for education and training, creating mentorship programs for new nursing graduates, among others.

As a first step in collaborative action, Canada’s nurses are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to call a First Ministers’ Meeting to discuss strategies to retain and recruit health care workers and ensure the sustainability of the health care system.


The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing Canada’s frontline nurses in every sector of health care – from home care, LTC, community and acute care, including nursing students – and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in the future of public health care.

Adella Khan, CFNU Communications, 613-807-2942,