Report Doesn't Fully Reflect Registered Nurse Workforce Issues

    EDMONTON, Oct. 23 /CNW/ - Positive news about Alberta's registered nurse
(RN) workforce, released today in the Canadian Institute of Health Information
(CIHI) report 2006 Workforce Trends of Registered Nurses in Canada, doesn't
reflect the real picture of the nursing shortage in Alberta, according to the
College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA).
    "While the report contains positive news about the increase in the
numbers of registered nurses employed in Alberta, the report masks the
critical nursing shortage we are facing," says Margaret Hadley, CARNA
president. "The economic boom is making the province an attractive destination
for both experienced and newly graduated registered nurses from across Canada
but the increased numbers of nurses moving to Alberta still isn't enough to
fill the vacant positions we have now. When the baby-boomers start retiring,
the situation could become much worse."
    Conservative estimates indicate that there are currently more than 1,500
registered nurse vacancies in the province while approximately 1,300 nurses
will graduate from Alberta nursing programs this year.
    According to the report, Alberta saw an increase of 8 per cent in the
number of RNs employed in nursing compared to 4.8 per cent growth nationally.
The province is also an attractive destination for both experienced and newly
graduated RNs from other provinces. In 2001, Alberta had the 2nd highest rate
of inter-provincial migration for RNs at 8 per cent next to PEI with 9 per
cent.(1) The percentage of Alberta RNs educated outside of Canada is mid-range
at 4.7 per cent compared to a Canadian average of 7.9 per cent. Provinces with
higher numbers of internationally educated nurses are B.C., Ontario,
NWT/Nunavut and the Yukon.
    "The report doesn't capture the substantial increase in the number of
applications we have received from internationally educated nurses," says
Mary-Anne Robinson, CARNA executive director. "The volume of applications has
increased three-fold since the start of 2007, reflecting proactive recruiting
overseas by the regional health authorities. While international recruitment
is an important strategy for addressing the nursing shortage, it is a
short-term measure and shouldn't deflect focus from increasing the nursing
education seats and retaining the current nursing workforce."

    CARNA is the professional association and regulatory college for
Alberta's nearly 30,000 registered nurses, the largest health profession in
the province. Its members include registered nurses and nurse practitioners
working in direct care, nursing management, education and research. CARNA sets
nursing practice standards and ensures Albertans receive safe, competent and
ethical nursing services.

    (1)Summary Report: Distribution and Internal Migration of Canada's Health
       Care Workforce, CIHI 2007

For further information:

For further information: Margaret Ward-Jack, Tel: (780) 453-0515, Cell:
(780) 932-1376, Email:; Rachel Champagne, Tel: (780)
453-0516, email:

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College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

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