June 14, 2023 | Toronto, Ontario | Health Canada
As Canada’s largest group of health professionals with more than 400,000 members, nurses are critical to Canada’s health care system, but many are leaving the profession given the challenges – such as increased workloads, high incidences of burnout, stress, anxiety and depression, and in some cases, abuse – that they face on the job.
Health workers are the backbone of the health care system, and the Government of Canada is working with provinces and territories, as well as the Coalition for Action for Health Workers and other key partners to address health workforce challenges. Budget 2023 outlined our plan to invest close to $200 billion to improve health care for Canadians, which includes a focus on efforts to further support the health workforce through retention, recruitment, planning and recognition of credentials of those trained in other jurisdictions and abroad. Additionally, it will support more team-based models of care and leverage new technologies to transform the health system in order to address the health workforce crisis.
Today, the Government of Canada hosted a Nursing Retention Forum, led by Canada’s Chief Nursing Officer, Dr. Leigh Chapman, bringing together the nursing community, employers, and frontline workers from across the country to discuss the current health workforce crisis including strategies to address and improve nursing retention.
The Forum’s participants met earlier today to co-develop a toolkit with evidence-informed practical strategies, such as mental health and wellness supports, that employers and health authorities can implement to support nursing retention within their organizations. The Forum provided a unique opportunity for experts, decision makers, and key members of the nursing community to come together in support of the nursing workforce and discuss targeted strategies aimed at optimizing the work environment. The toolkit is set to be released this fall.
The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces, territories, the Coalition for Action for Health Workers, and other key stakeholders to identify solutions to longstanding health workforce challenges so that nurses and other health workers across Canada can continue their critical work of keeping Canadians healthy and safe.
“Nurses play a vital role in our health care system. To provide better health care to Canadians, we need to address the challenges nurses face across the country. The Nursing Retention Forum’s toolkit will provide employers and health authorities with tools to help nurses remain in their chosen profession longer, while feeling valued and supported. Together, we will keep working to improve nurses’ working conditions so they can take care of themselves while providing quality care for all Canadians.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Canada’s Minister of Health
“Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system, yet too many in Canada are struggling with their mental health, feeling burned out, overworked, distressed, and unappreciated, causing them to leave their jobs entirely. Co-developing a retention toolkit will allow the nursing community to contribute first-hand to making changes in our health care system, including improving mental health supports to help nurses stay mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, so that they can keep supporting us.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
“As a nurse, I’ve seen first hand the challenges that our nursing workforce goes through. It is crucial not only to recruit new nurses but also to retain them within our healthcare system, especially as Canada’s population continues to age. That is why the Nursing Retention Forum and toolkit being developed are so important. They give us a chance to find solutions to these ongoing challenges and improve nurses’ working conditions. In doing so, we can help our nurses do what they do best: take care of their patients and keep Canadian families healthy and safe.”
The Honourable Kamal Khera
Canada’s Minister of Seniors
“As Chief Nursing Officer, with 20 years of nursing experience, I am working to develop and implement solutions that truly work for nurses. I established the Nursing Retention Forum together with the nursing community, so that we can create a toolkit with inclusive, evidence-informed strategies that can be implemented by employers to support nursing retention across Canada. The toolkit, created by nurses for nurses, is aimed at optimizing the work environment for nurses in Canada.”
Dr. Leigh Chapman
Canada’s Chief Nursing Officer
- Forum participants included nursing employers, frontline nurses, faculty, nursing students and nursing thought leaders, as well as representatives from the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, the Canadian Black Nurses Alliance, the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing and the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association.
- The total number of vacancies in health occupations has more than quadrupled over the past seven years.
- On August 23, 2022, Health Canada announced that it had appointed Dr. Leigh Chapman as Chief Nursing Officer, to look at pan-Canadian nursing issues and providing strategic advice to Health Canada on priority policy and program areas.
- On November 1, 2022, the federal government announced the establishment of a Coalition for Action for Health Workers that provides advice to inform immediate and longer-term solutions to address significant health workforce challenges.
- Budget 2023 outlined the Government of Canada’s plan to invest close to $200 billion over 10 years to improve health care for Canadians, which includes $25 billion through tailored bilateral agreements with provinces and territories to advance shared health priorities, one of which is supporting Canada’s health workers.
- In 2021, the federal government also amended the Criminal Code (under the former Bill C-3) to ensure health workers are safe and free from threats, violence and harassment.