Health Human Resources

Health Human Resources

For years, health-care associations, unions, economists and other experts have been sounding the alarm about health worker shortages, particularly in nursing. A stable and sufficient supply of health professionals continues to be one of Canada’s greatest health-care challenges. Shortages have produced long and frustrating wait times, adverse events for patients, and untenable working conditions for nurses and other health-care workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic greatly exacerbated the ongoing nursing workforce crisis in Canada. Nurses are burned out, demoralized and exhausted as they care for patients and there is a worrying number of health-care workers leaving the profession. Excessive workloads and understaffing have pushed nurses and health workers past the breaking point. The lack of supports and increasing stress levels have forced nurses to retire early, switch to part-time employment, or leave their jobs or the profession altogether.

Furthermore, better data is needed to ensure the health workforce supply meets the population demand. Poor data means decisions around planning, staffing, deploying and recruiting and training continue to be made in the dark.


  • Nurses Are Hanging by a Thread (Facebook Live Event, February 4, 2022): The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and CNA joined together to unpack the challenges facing health care and put forward the bold solutions needed to safeguard the health-care system that Canadians hold so dear.
  • Investing in the Canadian Nursing Workforce Post Pandemic: A Call to Action: The Royal Society of Canada has released a pre-print of their executive summary on the nursing workforce in Canada.
  • Canadian Health Workforce Network: Established through funds from Health Canada, this network brings together national experts, researchers and policy-makers interested in health human resource research, policy and planning.
  • Tested Solutions for Eliminating Canada’s Registered Nurse Shortage: This CNA report summary offers practical responses to a key problem for Canada’s health system: if the health needs of Canadians continue to change, and no policy interventions are implemented, Canada will be short almost 60,000 full-time equivalent RNs by 2022.


  • Stop the Bleeding in Canada’s Health Workforce: Read CNA’s recommendations to the federal government on how to address nursing shortages and the health workforce crisis.
  • CNA has been advocating for reinstatement of the federal chief nursing officer, with appropriate resources and senior-level decision-making authority, for many years. We are pleased that Health Canada has officially launched a hiring process for reinstating the chief nursing officer for Canada.
  • Joint Health Human Resources Roadmap: CNA collaborated with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) to develop recommendations to the federal, provincial and territorial governments to help solve the health workforce crisis.
  • House of Commons Health Committee study on Canada’s Health Workforce: CNA submitted a joint brief with CMA and CFPC with recommendations on health human resources. CNA also appeared twice as a witness during the committee’s study on March 2 and May 9.
  • House of Commons Human Resources Committee study on Labour Shortages and the Care Economy: CNA submitted a brief with recommendations to address nursing shortages in Canada. CNA also appears as a witness during the committee’s study on March 28.
  • During the first quarter of 2022, CNA met with over 130 public officials including ministers, political staff, members of parliament, and senators, and organized a virtual lobbying week to discuss nursing shortages, burnout and Canada’s health workforce crisis.
  • Letter-writing campaign, health-care workforce crisis: Join CNA and nurses from across the country by sending a letter to your MP to urge them to stand with and support nurses and all health-care workers.
  • Following the 2021 federal election and prior to the speech from the throne, CNA wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his government to take urgent action to rebuild Canada’s health workforce by investing in a pan-Canadian health-human resources strategy that addresses critical staffing shortages and data gaps.
  • CNA’s 2021 federal election platform included recommendations to support health-care workers by urging the federal government to invest in mental health supports and to address the data infrastructure gaps of the health workforce.
  • CNA’s 2022 pre-budget submission recommended that the federal government establish a dedicated coordinating body to address health workforce data gaps and re-establish the position of the federal chief nursing officer.