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June 5, 2019

Canada’s nurses commission study of nurse staffing in face of growing crisis

Media Release

June 4, 2019 (FREDERICTON) – With all Canadian provinces facing a growing nurse staffing crunch, Canada’s nurses have commissioned a national study that can help governments and major health care organizations find solutions to an anticipated crisis.

Announcing the “National Nurse Staffing Survey” at the Biennial Convention of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, President Linda Silas said the study will survey nurses (RNs, NPs, LPNs, and RPNs) in all sectors, collecting data on current staffing levels, workload, working conditions, staff burnout and education. The research uses measures from the international RN4Cast study, and is being led by recognized health human resources expert Dr. Linda McGillis Hall of the University of Toronto.

“We already know declining numbers of new nursing graduates and the departure of many older nurses from the profession are contributing to the present shortage of professional nurses in Canada,” said Silas, who cited statistics from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI).

CIHI has reported that 2017 saw the lowest annual growth in the number of regulated nurses employed in Canada during the past decade, she noted. At the same time, there has been a decrease in the proportion of nurses aged 35 to 54, who play a critical role in monitoring and mentoring younger nurses, while supporting older nurses.

“The combination of these trends is making the nurse shortage worse,” said Silas. “Add to this the tendency of new nursing grads to take casual or part-time work and you have the makings of a serious crisis on top of the current nurse shortages already troubling the health care system.”

Silas said preliminary findings from the Survey will be released during National Nurses Week 2020, which runs from May 10 to 16, and a final report with recommendations on how to deal with the crisis will follow.

On Wednesday morning, a panel discussed the issue during a plenary session of the CFNU convention at the Fredericton Convention Centre. The panel was comprised of Dr. McGillis Hall, Dr. Walter Sermeus of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, Phil Ni Sheaghdha of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association and Judith Kiejda of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Associations.


For more information, contact:

Lauren Snowball, CFNU Communications Officer, 613-868-5702,