The CFNU Logo
February 3, 2022

Our Health Care System Is Hanging by a Thread

Health Human Resources
Media Release

February 3, 2022 (OTTAWA, ON) – As provincial and territorial premiers gather virtually for a Council of the Federation meeting tomorrow, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) will be hosting an important parallel discussion to address the alarming crisis facing our nation’s health care workforce.

With this event, titled Hanging by a Thread, the CFNU and its partners hope to draw federal, provincial and territorial governments’ attention to the urgent shortage of health care workers and the persistent lack of strategic planning that has led to the crisis in our health care system. They appeal to the federal government to call a meeting of health care leaders to discuss critical priorities, including urgent strategies to retain and recruit nurses.

“Nurses are at their wits’ end. Staffing shortages, excessive workloads and burnout were already inescapable realities before the onset of COVID-19, and the pandemic has now exacerbated the situation to crisis proportions,” said Linda Silas, CFNU President. “Nurses and all health care workers are asking governments to come together to develop a strategy to prevent the collapse of our health care system.”

In recent months, premiers have called for an immediate and significant injection of funding for provincial and territorial health systems. Such new investments must be linked to measures to help to stem the tide of workers leaving their jobs and the health care profession in droves.

The CFNU and CNA are spearheading this critical effort to urge immediate change in Canada’s approach to human resources in the health care sector. With job vacancies in the health care and social assistance sector numbering 118,200 in the third quarter of 2021, it is clear that our health workforce has reached a breaking point.

“Canadian health care is at a critical juncture. Health care facilities across the country are being forced to close beds and scale back emergency services. Patients must travel much longer distances to access needed services, and long-awaited surgeries are once again being postponed. With our current approach to health human resources, there is no end in sight to this crisis,” added Mike Villeneuve, CEO of the Canadian Nurses Association.

Now is the time for urgent and coordinated strategic action.

“Health care workers are the backbone of our system and have sustained us during the pandemic. Our first priority must be to provide health care workers with the supports and resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. Governments must work together to address this escalating crisis, because without nurses a bed is just a bed,” concluded Silas.


The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing about 200,000 nurses and student nurses, and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in public health care.

For more information, please contact:
Ben René,, 613-406-5962