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July 4, 2023

Nurses rising up to demand action to fix health worker crisis

Media Release

Silas: Nurses from around the globe gather in Canada, united to demand better

July 4, 2023 (MONTREAL) – Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions’ President Linda Silas delivered a strong call to action to nurses gathered from around the world for the 2023 International Council of Nurses (ICN) Congress in Montreal. Silas warned world leaders that nurses are strong, united and demanding urgent action.

“When world leaders meet, the crisis facing nurses must be a top priority, not an afterthought,” declared Silas. “Nurses aren’t some angels of mercy to be taken for granted. Nurses are a global force, and we are rising up to demand governments stop treating us like a second-class profession.” Silas added that coordinated action is needed because we can’t fix health care in one country by making things worse in another. The ICN represents 28 million nurses from around the world.

“Just like one province can’t solve a national health crisis at the expense of another province, we can only address the global nursing shortage crisis if governments work together,” said Silas. “Governments must listen to nurses and collaborate on sustainable solutions to the poor working conditions and staffing shortages plaguing health systems around the world.”

Silas outlined how nurses are coming forward with good ideas and practical initiatives that are already working to improve working conditions and increase nurse retention. They just need more governments to start listening.

“To protect patient safety, we need to better retain nurses, which means making workloads for frontline nurses manageable. We can start to do this by bringing in minimum nurse-to-patient ratios,” explained Silas. “Health systems with ratios in place, like California, see improved outcomes for patients and higher job satisfaction. B.C. has now agreed to implement nurse-patient ratios – it’s time every province followed suit.”

“But we are never going to keep nurses from leaving the profession until we also address the unsustainable hours nurses are having to work,” concluded Silas. “We have rules around the hours truck drivers and pilots can be forced to work, but nurses have no such safeguards. With all due respect to other professions, aren’t nurses responsible for the most precious cargo of all? Nurses need work-life balance.”


The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing 250,000 Canada’s frontline nurses in every sector of health care – from home care, to LTC, community and acute care, including nursing students – and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in the future of public health care.

For more information please contact Adella Khan, CFNU Communications,, 613‑807-2942.