Canada is facing a concerning shortage of nurses that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This nursing shortage is being felt across the healthcare system and could have significant impacts on patient care if not addressed. In this blog post, we will examine some of the critical factors causing the nursing shortage in Canada and discuss some potential strategies to help alleviate it.
Causes of the Nursing Shortage in canada
There are a few key factors that have contributed to the shortage of nurses in Canada:
Aging population and increased demand for care – Canada has an aging population that requires more healthcare services, including nursing care. This is increasing demand. At the same time, many nurses are aging out of the workforce as they reach retirement age.High burnout and turnover – Nursing is a demanding profession, both physically and emotionally. Heavy workloads, moral distress, and occupational hazards like workplace violence have caused high rates of burnout. This has led many nurses to leave bedside care or the profession entirely.
Lack of new graduates – For years, Canadian nursing schools have not been able to keep up with demand. Enrollment spots have been limited. This has resulted in fewer new graduates entering the workforce.
Early retirements during the pandemic – Many nurses chose to retire early during the pandemic, citing burnout and moral distress. This decreased the nursing workforce further.
To address the nursing shortage in Canada, the following solutions should be considered:
Increasing nursing school enrollments – Funding should be provided to expand nursing program capacity and acceptance of qualified applicants. This will grow the next generation of nurses.
Improving workplace conditions – Healthcare settings must take action to enhance nurses’ work-life balance, ensure adequate staffing, implement safety initiatives, and provide mental health support. This will help retention.
Immigration and foreign worker recruitment – Actively recruiting foreign-educated nurses and streamlining immigration policies could help fill vacancies, especially in the short term.
Financial incentives – Signing bonuses, education subsidies, and wage increases may attract more people to the nursing profession or keep current nurses from leaving or retiring early.
Supporting career advancement – Providing training, mentoring, and opportunities for nurses to take on leadership and advanced practice roles could help retain experienced nurses. The nursing shortage presents a significant challenge for healthcare in Canada. Implementing creative, multifaceted solutions will be essential to ensure there is an adequate nursing workforce to care for Canada’s growing healthcare needs now and into the future.
- Canadian Nurses Association (2022). Workforce Data Indicates 23 Percent of Nurses to Leave Profession by 2023. https://www.cna-aiic.ca/en/news-room/news-releases/2022/workforce-data-indicates-23-per-cent-of-nurses-to-leave-profession-by-2023
Ogilvie, K.K., Eggleton, A. & Lai, S. (2022). Nursing supply and demand in Canada: Projections to 2025. Journal of Advanced Nursing. https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.15114