CFNU responds to CIHI Nursing Report

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions released this statement in response to the annual Canadian Institute for Health Information report on Nursing in Canada:

Nurses call for a health human resources plan as nursing supply declines for the first time in two decades

June 23, 2015 (Ottawa) – For the first time in two decades, more regulated nurses left their profession than entered it, according to the latest regulated nursing workforce data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). In 2014, the supply of regulated nurses declined by 0.3% over the previous year. The decline occurred because fewer regulated nurses – which includes registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) – applied for registration or chose to renew their registration than in the past.

One of the factors affecting the nursing supply is retirement. Among RNs, who make up the majority of the nursing workforce, the proportion of RNs approaching retirement age is growing steadily. According to CIHI’s report, almost 26% of RNs are 55 or older. More worrying still, almost 40% of RNs are aged 50 or older. The growing number of nurses either retiring or seeking work in other sectors may account for the larger decline (-1%) of RN supply, when compared to other regulated categories. The CIHI report also notes that since 2009-2010, the number of students admitted to Entry-to-Practice (ETP) RN programs has been declining.

As supply declines, employers may increasingly be turning to overtime to meet workload demands. The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions’ new overtime and absenteeism report for 2015 shows that nurses worked more than 19 million hours of overtime in 2014 at a total cost of almost $872 million. Over 20% of this amount was borne by nurses in unpaid overtime. As a result of excessive overtime and excessive workloads, nurses’ absenteeism rates rose in 2014, putting an additional strain on our health care system.

The CFNU has been raising the alarm about the retention and recruitment of nurses for many years. “The latest workforce data, coupled with the results of CFNU’s overtime and absenteeism report for 2014, is of concern,” says CFNU President, Linda Silas. “The decrease in the nursing supply combined with an aging workforce and fewer students admitted to ETP programs is a sign that our health care workforce is in transition. To ensure patient safety and a sustainable health care system, we need a national health human resources plan.”

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The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions represents close to 200,000 nurses and student nurses. Our members work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, community health care and our homes.

David Cournoyer
Communications Advisor
United Nurses of Alberta
Office: 780 425 1025
Mobile: 780 913 1563


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