OTTAWA, Oct. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - According to the latest registered nurse
(RN) workforce data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information
(CIHI), the bulge of RNs approaching retirement age is swelling. The
Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is concerned that the number of RNs
age 60 and older matches the proportion of those younger than 30. And
while the workforce continues to grow overall, 2011-2012 saw the
smallest increase in a number of years.
"The latest workforce data illustrates a concerning trend — one that
requires greater awareness and immediate policy intervention" said CNA
president Barb Mildon. "A slower growth rate coupled with an aging
workforce equal a profession under a great strain. In the name of
patient safety and an effective health-care system, governments and
employers need to be prepared to respond to a workforce in critical
A striking gap is the difference between the number of new graduates and
the growth in the RN workforce. More than 10,000 RNs graduated in each
of the past three years, but the net gain has been disappointing; in
2011-2012, only 1,083 RNs were added to the workforce. What happened to
the other 8,917 RNs? How Canada currently collects and reports health
workforce data does not provide enough information to determine what
the real story is — where the gap lies. The data provides little in the
way of a clear picture to help plan for the workforce that is needed to
support the growing and changing health needs of Canadians. Knowing
whether the numbers of RNs in the system are shifting because of
retirements or career changes — or leaving the profession because
suitable employment is unavailable — would be invaluable insight for
The evidence we do have suggests that governments and service delivery
organizations need to increase the proportion of full-time employment
positions, retain new nursing graduates and update legislation to
enable RNs to work to the full scope of their education and
capabilities. Strategies to improve the physical and psychological
health and safety of RNs would also contribute to a reduction in
absenteeism and increases in productivity and retention.
"We know there are economic realities," said Mildon. "In times of
tighter health spending, it is necessary to ensure that resources are
being used effectively and appropriately to provide the best care to
Canadians. Governments, health administrators and the nursing
profession alike must see to it that Canada's RNs are not being
misused, overused or underused. In other words, it is through their
appropriate use that we can realize meaningful improvements in
population health and performance of the system."
Report highlights include:
The supply of RNs eligible to practise in Canada grew at roughly the
same rate as the general population between 2008 and 2012, reaching a
total of 292,883. While the RN workforce increased steadily over this
period, reaching 271,807, the number of RNs per 100,000 population
declined slightly from 786 to 779.
Where RNs work was largely unchanged between 2008 and 2012: 61.6% in
hospitals, 15.4% in the community health sector and 9.6% in the
long-term care sector. RNs employed in the territories were most likely
to work in the community health sector (41.8%).
Just more than 10.5% of the RN workforce was employed in a rural or
remote area in 2012, the lowest proportion among all the Canadian
regulated nursing groups.
The number of nurse practitioners (NPs) employed in nursing almost
doubled between 2008 and 2012, from 1,626 to 3,157. However, NPs still
make up only 1% of the RN workforce.
Even though a majority of NPs worked outside of hospitals in 2012
(59.8%), the percentage has fallen from 69.2% in 2008.
CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A
federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and
colleges representing more than 150,000 registered nurses, CNA advances
the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and
strengthen Canada's publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.
SOURCE: Canadian Nurses Association
For further information:
Kate Headley, External Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
Telephone: 613-237-2159, ext. 561