Message from the Minister of Health, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, and the Minister of Seniors – National Nursing Week


May 8, 2023 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada

Today, as part of National Nursing Week, we recognize and celebrate the dedication and determination of nurses, nurse educators, and nursing students in Canada who provide essential care for us and our loved ones. This year's theme “Our Nurses. Our Future.” is an opportunity to highlight the pivotal role that nurses play in Canadian society.

Over the last few years, Canada's nurses have been faced with unprecedented demands and rapidly changing environments. Despite incredible adversity, across the country, more than 400,000 nurses continue to provide skilled and compassionate care in our hospitals, long-term care homes; in primary care and public health roles; and in community settings, to support and maintain our health.

We also know there is an urgent need to address the current health workers crisis which is greatly impacting nurses’ physical and mental health. Nursing shortages, long hours, and increased pressures are all factors that have led to higher rates of burnout, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression among nurses. If you are a nurse who is struggling, or looking to support a colleague, friend, or loved one who is – please know that support is available through the Wellness Together Portal and its companion app PocketWell, which provide access to free and confidential mental health and substance use services, including dedicated resources to support our health workforce.

In recognition of the critical role nurses play in our health care system, and to help provide nurses with the support and resources they need, last year we announced the appointment of Dr. Leigh Chapman as the new Chief Nursing Officer of Canada. Dr. Chapman has been working with key partners, including provinces and territories, on pan-Canadian key priority policy and program areas related to nursing, such as addressing nursing retention.

Under Dr. Chapman’s leadership, Health Canada will host a hybrid Nursing Retention Forum in June 2023. This will be a unique opportunity for experts, decision makers and key stakeholders such as frontline nurses, nurse employers, nursing faculty and nursing students from across the country to come together in support of the nursing workforce. The goal is to co-develop a toolkit with evidence-informed strategies that employers can implement to support nursing retention within their organizations.

We are also working with provinces and territories, as well as the Coalition for Action for Health Workers and other key partners to address health workforce challenges and improve access to health services for Canadians. Budget 2023 outlined the Government of Canada’s plan to invest close to $200 billion to improve health care for Canadians, which includes a focus on efforts to support a resilient health workforce through retention and recruitment, including for nurses, and to establish more team-based models of care. The plan also includes a new Centre of Excellence for the Future of the Health Workforce to improve the information and data we have about the health workforce and support better planning for the future.

We have also expanded the Canada Student Loan Forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural or remote communities and are supporting key organizations through the Foreign Credential Recognition Program to improve and help skilled newcomers gain Canadian work experience in the health sector. Additionally, the Government of Canada recently provided the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) with $2.4 million to fund an initiative supporting a new nurse residency program, in recognition of the need to better support new graduate nurses in their transition to the practice environment.

On behalf of the entire Government of Canada, to all nurses - thank you for dedicating your lives and careers to keep our communities safe and healthy. Your compassion and kindness do not go unnoticed.

We encourage all Canadians to join the conversation online by using the hashtags #OurNursesOurFuture, #NationalNursingWeek, #IKnowANurse and #HeyNurse to share stories of exceptional nurses, because everyone knows a nurse who has left a lasting impression! Or visit the Canadian Nurses Association to learn more about National Nursing Week.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Kamal Khera, P.C., M.P.

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