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Position statements

From time to time, the CFNU issues position statements on topical and pertinent issues. In doing this, the CNFU hopes to offer knowledge and guidance to decision-makers, employers, union activists and nurses.

Position statements

Coronavirus COVID-19

It is our position that a pan-Canadian approach to emergency preparedness must incorporate the precautionary principle so that all nurses and health care workers across Canada have the same access to health and safety in their workplaces, including the same standard for personal protective equipment (PPE) and pandemic planning.

2023-10-04: COVID-19 fall 2023 statement
2021-08-24: COVID-19 Vaccination
2021-07-16: Safety Is Not Negotiable: Pandemic Preparedness – the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
2021-07-12: Vaccines are not a panacea: public health measures must continue in Canada
2020-12-01: Pregnant Health Care Workers Should Not Be Forced to Work in COVID-19 ‘Hot Zones’
2020-07-15: Canada’s Nurses and Presumptive Legislation for COVID-19
2020-04-22: COVID-19 – the Right to Know, the Right to Participate and the Right to Refuse – Every Workers’ Right, Including Health Care Workers
2020-04-17: The Need for Transparency Regarding the PPE to Protect Health Care Workers
2020-04-08: Provision and laundering of uniforms for nurses providing care to COVID-19 patients
2020-04-02: Nurses with conditions that make them susceptible to COVID-19

Agency Nurses

Faced with perennial shortfalls in funding along with the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the provinces and territories are increasingly relying on agency nurses to deliver care and fill gaps in our overburdened health care system. This approach affects the continuity of care that patients and residents receive, and represents a loss of millions of dollars – funding that could be better invested in strengthening Canada’s public health care system and improving patient safety.

2022-09-23: CFNU position statement on agency nurses (PDF)


In advance of the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada on October 17, 2018, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has released separate position statements on recreational and medical cannabis and occupational health and safety.

2018-10-16: Recreational cannabis and occupational health & safety (PDF includes both statements)
2018-10-16: Medical cannabis and occupational health & safety (PDF includes both statements)

Child Care

The economic and social benefits of universal child care are well documented. Universal child care helps reduce poverty rates for single-parent families by giving single parents the ability to remain in the workforce and potentially upgrade their education and skills. The provision of daycare also improves child development, and provides social and support networks for families.

2022-09: CFNU position statement on child care (PDF)

Climate Change

The CFNU is working alongside the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) on raising public awareness of the health impacts of climate change and advocating for large-scale action to mitigate against and adapt to climate change.

2022-10-30: CFNU position statement on climate change (PDF)

Gender-Based Violence in the Workplace

Gender-based violence is experiencing unwanted sexual behaviours while in public spaces, while online or while in the workplace, as well as experiences of assault and sexual assault since the age of 15. The CFNU strongly supports violence-free workplaces. Since workplace violence is an occupational health and safety hazard, workplaces are subject to provincial and territorial health and safety legislation.

2022-09-25: CFNU position statement on gender-based violence in the workplace (PDF)

Gun Control

Since 1991, the CFNU has been advocating for a public health approach to gun control, because ensuring public safety by reducing the risk of injury or death by firearms is an intervention measure aimed at protecting public health. As nurses, we witness, first-hand, the impacts of gun violence.

2018-07-03: CFNU position statement on gun control (PDF)

Health in All Policies

The health of a person is affected by their environment. As governments are responsible for the health of the nation, they are also responsible for the environments in which people live. A Health in All Policies approach to health would not only reduce stress on the health care system but also pay significant dividends in reduced costs.

2016-10-30: CFNU position statement on health in all policies (PDF)

Human Rights and Equity

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions promotes and supports human rights and equity for all. We support the principles of human rights as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

2022-09-23: CFNU position statement on human rights and equity (PDF)

Internationally Educated Nurses

Upon arriving in Canada, a growing number of internationally educated nurses find themselves in difficult circumstances, alone, and are provided minimal community support. The CFNU and its member organizations are committed to representing these nurses.

2022-09-23: CFNU position statement on internationally educated nurses (PDF)

Mandatory Overtime

The CFNU believes that the practice of mandating overtime is unjust, unacceptable and potentially unsafe due to the increased risk of nurse fatigue. It is the position of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions to reject the practice of officially mandating nurses to work overtime, as well as the practice of coercing or pressuring a nurse into accepting overtime. After a regularly scheduled shift, the nurse must have the option to accept or decline any overtime.

2022-10-12: CFNU position statement on mandatory overtime (PDF)

Pay Equity

Fair pay means that the work women and men do is equally respected and valued. However, for generations, women in Canada have been paid less than men for work of equal value.

2022-09-23: CFNU position statement on pay equity (PDF)

Patient Safety

Optimal patient safety requires collaboration, competence and accountability at many levels. Nurses and nurse leaders should be participants in all decision-making so that they can contribute their unique knowledge and skill to the achievement of a culture of safety and safe staffing.

2019-06-24: Joint position statement by the CFNU and the CNA on patient safety (PDF)

Practice Environments

A quality practice environment supports the delivery of safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care while maximizing the health of clients and nurses. Developing, supporting and maintaining quality practice environments in all settings across the continuum of care takes time and commitment.

2014: Joint position statement by the CFNU and the CNA on practice work environments (PDF)

Privatization of Health Care

The CFNU firmly opposes the private, for-profit delivery of health care services. Canada’s nurses believe that health care is not a commodity to be bought or sold. We support efforts to protest privatization in all areas of our health care system, and will continue to work closely with allies such as the Canadian Health Coalition and the Canadian Labour Congress to reverse its presence and challenge its expansion.

2023-03-23: CFNU position statement on health care privatization (PDF)

Trade Agreements

Trade agreements should synchronize with democracy to enable governments to flexibly deliver needed and wanted services and programs to the public and thereby improve the standard of living. They should not serve to strengthen the power of a few multinational corporations at the expense of the democratic will of sovereign nations and people.

2022-09-23: CFNU position statement on trade agreements (PDF)

Workplace Violence and Bullying

All nurses have the right to work in a respectful environment that is free from any form of violence and bullying and to work where these are not tolerated as part of a nurse’s job. Every workplace should have a culture that promotes and cultivates a respectful workplace.

2015-04-05: Joint position statement by the CFNU and the CNA on workplace violence and bullying (PDF)