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June 29, 2018

Fulfilling Nurse Practitioners’ Untapped Potential in Canada’s Health Care System

Download report (PDF)

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions Pan-Canadian Nurse Practitioner (NP) Retention & Recruitment Project aims to improve NP working conditions to better retain and attract NPs and expand NP positions throughout the health care system. About three million Canadians receive care from an NP, but their numbers are not sufficient to meet the growing needs of an aging population.

“NPs are the solution to Canada’s long-standing shortage of primary care providers, access and wait times issues, especially within underserved populations, communities and settings,” said Linda Silas, President of the CFNU. “The findings in this report chart a path forward for governments to tap into the potential of NPs and improve access, from primary and long-term care to mental health and acute care.”

In an effort to understand why Canada has failed to take advantage of NPs’ full potential, the CFNU commissioned this study exploring barriers to the retention and recruitment of NPs. Issues such as limited employment opportunities, inappropriate remuneration, outdated funding models, lack of interprofessional collaboration and legislative/regulatory barriers still negatively impact NPs.

“The evidence reveals that NPs improve access to holistic, cost-effective, high-quality care that reduces wait times and costs throughout the broader health system,” said Lisa Little, the study’s lead researcher. “With a supply of only about 14 NPs per 100,000 Canadians – one fifth of the per capita supply in the U.S. – there is a great potential for NPs to meet Canada’s growing health care needs.”

The CFNU Pan-Canadian NP Retention & Recruitment Project was undertaken between November 2017 and June 2018 to help develop recommendations for the expansion of NPs within our health care system to improve timely access to health care for all those living in Canada. The project included an online bilingual pan-Canadian survey. With a 22% pan-Canadian response rate, the national survey is the largest NP survey of its kind in Canada, including NPs from twelve provinces and territories.

CIHI/CFNU Primary Care Provider Maps

British Columbia





Quebec   Southern Quebec

New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia

Newfoundland and Labrador

Canada – Map of Family Physicians

Canada – Map of Nurse Practitioners


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