The CFNU Logo
November 7, 2023

Nurses urge premiers to stay focused on solving the nationwide nursing shortage

Council of the Federation
Media Release

Silas: Nurses and patients need to see action that matches the urgency of this crisis.

November 7, 2023 (OTTAWA, ON) – “Premiers can not lose sight of just how critically important tackling the nationwide nursing shortage is to bringing Canada out of this health care crisis,” warned Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “Our leaders cannot allow health care to be placed on the back burner amongst other pressing issues of the day. We must act on solutions, and quickly – patients hang in the balance.”

Following the Council of the Federation’s Health Summit, Silas underscored the need for premiers to finalize their action plans, detailing the initiatives they will implement in support of nurses as part of the bilateral agreements provinces and territories signed with the federal government earlier this year.

“While it is positive that premiers discussed best practices across the provinces and territories, we must move from conversations to concrete action,” said Silas. “Nurses have repeatedly shared leading retention, return and recruitment initiatives with premiers and health ministers that can be readily acted upon. We need to see less talk and more action that matches the urgency of the crisis facing our country.”

Amidst ballooning spending on for-profit nursing agencies to fill staffing needs, Canada’s nurses unions applaud the premiers for working toward a unified approach to limit the use of costly for-profit nursing agencies.

Silas emphasized the importance of collaboration in solving the nursing shortage in Canada – and globally. Silas said internationally educated nurses should be a part of a sustainable recruitment process for Canada, where IENs account for 64% of the increase in registered nurses in 2022, up from 19% in 2021. This increase in IENs in Canada underscores the importance of ethical recruitment and fair treatment as critical to sustainability at home and across the world.

“Just like one province cannot solve a national health crisis at the expense of another province, we can not solve Canada’s nursing shortage at the expense of other countries,” said Silas. “Canada’s nursing education programs are strong, and nursing jobs can be great jobs. Students and nurses just need more support. In a country as wealthy as Canada, we must take a leadership role and invest in sustainable solutions to the poor working conditions pushing nurses out of the profession, and set the stage for both national and global recovery.”

The CFNU is calling on provinces and territories to improve health care working conditions and implement key evidence-based initiatives that would improve nurse retention, create sustainable recruitment, and ultimately put an end to the years-long shortage of nurses across the country.

“Sustainable, proven solutions are within reach, and Canada’s nurses unions are ready to work with governments and employers to implement the changes nurses need from competitive salaries and benefits to better nurse-patient ratios,” said Silas. “While innovation is important, we cannot mistake private for-profit schemes for solutions to address challenges in health care. Ensuring permanent health care jobs in our communities are good, attractive jobs is critical to both retaining nurses and putting an end to this expensive overreliance on private staffing agencies.”


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.