Who We Are

Who We Are

CNA is a powerhouse nursing organization leading the development of health policy across Canada. Representing Canada's 466,000 regulated nurses, across all 13 provinces and territories, we're the only focal point for the profession on the national stage — and have been since 1908.

photo of a diverse group of nurses

As the national voice of nursing in Canada, we:

  • Act in the public interest for Canadian nursing and nurses, providing national and international leadership in nursing and health
  • Advocate for a publicly funded, not-for-profit health system
  • Advance nursing excellence and positive health outcomes
  • Promote profession-led regulation
Our members include unionized and non-unionized nurses, retired nurses, nursing students, and all categories of nurses (registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed and registered practical nurses, and registered psychiatric nurses).

Leading health-care policy

Nursing is too important, too valuable, and too expensive to be left like a rudderless ship with no one at the wheel. We help steer and develop the discipline of nursing for all regulated nurses across all 13 provinces and territories, as well as nurses who live and work in hundreds of Indigenous nations and communities.

As a leader in health policy, we:

  • Consistently rank in the top tier of health lobbyists
  • Develop, share, and mobilize evidence to inform better health and health-care policy development that benefits individuals, organizations and systems
  • Are the federal government’s “go-to” source for informed nursing and health-care policy advice
  • Are the only pan-Canadian association that has the mandate to monitor, guard, and advance the nursing profession
  • Lead initiatives that bring nurses, other health-care professionals, employers and governments together to discuss challenges and develop innovative solutions

 Canadian nurses need a unifying voice to advocate for and lead the profession; CNA is that voice. CNA’s collective leadership is critical to the health and well-being of our nation.

Dawn Tisdale, Provincial Health Services Authority, BC

Achieving better health outcomes

    No nursing organization works alone of course, but without the meaningful influence and action of CNA, important policy changes over the years would not have taken place. For example:

    • Canada has 8,200 nurse practitioners (as of 2023) working in regulated practice in every Canadian jurisdiction, helping keep people out of overcrowded emergency departments. 
    • The federal government re-established the federal chief nursing officer role in 2022, a move that reflected the importance of nursing in health policy development.
    • The expertise and needs of nurses are reflected in the Criminal Code of Canada in relation to medical assistance in dying (MAID). Without CNA’s intervention, MAID would have continued be administered only by physicians. This would have left nurses legally vulnerable, especially those working in rural and remote areas.
    • Nurses have a national nursing framework on the legalization of cannabis as well as learning modules to support their practice. These resources are vital as nurses deal with issues that arise as a result of legalized cannabis consumption in Canada.
    • All leading nursing organizations in Canada have come together to sign common nursing declarations on anti-Indigenous racism and anti-Black racism in nursing. CNA’s work in this realm is crucial to ensure nurses play their part in delivering health care equitably for Canada’s increasingly diverse population.

    With more than a century of success behind us, we know that a powerful nursing voice matters to Canadians — and it matters to their nurses. We make sure the professional nursing voice is heard by federal policy-makers before moving ahead with decisions that will directly affect nursing practice.

    How you help CNA

      As a CNA member, you help us develop our policy and strategy directions. For example, you can join one of our advisory councils and work on the future of nursing, francophone nursing issues, Indigenous relations, racism and discrimination, specialty nursing practice, and professional nursing and membership. We also count on your expertise in a range of formal external advocacy activities, such as speaking on health topics as witnesses before parliamentary committees.

      Our members contribute to the development of our policy recommendations to governments in priority areas, including:

      • Health human resources
      • Seniors and aging
      • Mental health and addictions
      • Primary care
      • Anti-racism
      • Pharmacare
      • Indigenous health

      CNA is an action-oriented, national resource for the nurses and people of Canada. We are your CNA. Join us in our shared mission to make nursing stronger, develop better health policy, and improve the health of Canadians.

      CNA is the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing. Our mission is to advance the nursing profession to improve health outcomes in Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system. CNA is the only national association that speaks for all types of nurses across all 13 provinces and territories. We represent nurses that are unionized and non-unionized, retired nurses, nursing students, and all categories of nurses (registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed and registered practical nurses, and registered psychiatric nurses).