CNA News Room

CNA welcomes Leigh Chapman as the new chief nursing officer for Canada

August 23, 2022 — After many years of advocacy, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is delighted to see the federal government officially reinstate the chief nursing officer (CNO) for Canada by appointing Leigh Chapman to the role.

The CNO role will strengthen Canada’s health system by providing strategic policy expert advice from a nursing lens in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of health system policy initiatives.

Chapman is a registered nurse who received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. “CNA congratulates Chapman for being appointed to the important role as CNO and we are eager to see the many achievements and important contributions she will make for the health of all people living in Canada,” said Sylvain Brousseau, president of CNA. “CNA has been calling for the reinstatement of the CNO for many years and we applauded the decision made by Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this year to reinstate the CNO.”

The reinstatement of the CNO by the federal government sends a strong message that nurses are influential within health care. It demonstrates that the government is listening and understands the value and contribution of Canada’s nurses to improve the health of all people in Canada.

“Empowering nurses is vital to policy development,” said Brousseau. “They are knowledgeable change agents at the forefront of health services. Nursing leadership is essential to achieve universal health coverage and to strengthen Canada’s public health system.”

“The appointment of Chapman comes at a time when Canada faces a severe health workforce crisis and nursing shortages that threaten the sustainability of our health-care system,” said Brousseau. “The CNO will have a critical role in supporting a national response to health human resources challenges and helping stabilize the nursing workforce.”

CNA looks forward to working with the federal government and the new CNO in shaping the future of health care in Canada.

The position of the CNO has existed previously within the federal government. In 1968, Verna Huffman Splane became Canada’s first official CNO, then titled principal nursing officer. The position was eliminated in 1994 due to budget reductions and re-established in 1999 through the Office of Nursing Policy. However, the position was ultimately eliminated again in the past decade.


About the Canadian Nurses Association
CNA is the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing. We represent registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed and registered practical nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, retired nurses, and nursing students across all 13 provinces and territories.

For more information, please contact:
Lucas Veiga
Public Affairs Lead
Cell: 613-697-7497