Government of Canada announces support to improve health workforce planning for nurses, at the International Council of Nurses Congress

News release

July 3, 2023 | Montreal, Quebec | Health Canada

Nurses in Canada make up Canada's largest group of health professionals with more than 400,000 working from coast to coast to coast.  Nurses are critical to Canada's health care system and the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring Canadians have access to nursing services when and where they need them. This requires the removal of barriers, such as gaps in data, to make workforce planning easier.

Nurses are regulated by bodies that, through provincial and territorial legislation, are responsible for our health and safety by ensuring nurses meet certain standards. There are currently 25 nurse regulators across Canada. The inability to uniquely identify nurses and their licensing histories makes workforce planning across the country a challenge.

As part of the Government of Canada’s plan to address this challenge and improve health workforce planning, today the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced over $2.5 million over three years to the Canadian Council for Practical Nurse Regulators (CCPNR) for the project Nursys in Canada, a national nurse database to allow the exchange of information about a nurse’s licensing history. Data is fundamental to a high-performing health care system and this database will improve registration processes and enable more consistent collection of data, as each nurse across the country will have a unique identifier.

This project is being initiated following the successful pilot adaptation of the Nursys in Canada database in collaboration with regulators in British Columbia (BC) and Ontario. Data from both BC and Ontario nurses has been successfully uploaded into the database, and since this is a national project, nursing regulators in all other provinces and territories will be encouraged to follow.

This announcement was made as Minister Duclos joined Canada’s Chief Nursing Officer, Dr. Leigh Chapman, and nurses from around the world, at the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Congress in Montreal. Minister Duclos addressed ICN Congress participants, reiterating the critical role nurses play in supporting health care systems as well as providing the health services Canadians need, when and where they need them.

This is why Budget 2023 outlined the Working Together Plan to invest close to $200 billion to improve health care for Canadians, which includes a focus on efforts to further support our health workforce through retention, recruitment, planning, and recognition of credentials of those trained in other jurisdictions and abroad.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces, territories, and other key stakeholders, to identify solutions to longstanding health workforce challenges so that nurses and other health workers across Canada can continue their critical work of keeping Canadians healthy and safe.


“Nurses play a vital role in our health care system. The Nursys in Canada database will be a game changer in strengthening our health workforce by ensuring better registration process for nurses and a more consistent collection of data. Through this database, we will better support our nursing community and patient care. We will keep advancing our efforts to improve health workforce planning across Canada so all health workers can continue providing quality care for all Canadians, when and where they need it."

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Canada’s Minister of Health

“As Chief Nursing Officer, with 20 years of nursing experience, I am working to develop and implement solutions that truly work for nurses. Nurse regulators will lead the implementation of the Nursys in Canada database to provide every nurse in Canada with a unique identifier. This will provide more consistent data that will help improve health workforce planning and contribute to better working conditions for nurses.”

Dr. Leigh Chapman
Canada’s Chief Nursing Officer

Quick facts

  • The CCPNR is the federation of provincial and territorial organizations identified in legislation as responsible for the safety of the public through the regulation of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs). The CCPNR provides a forum to discuss and collaborate on issues and initiatives relevant to the regulation of all practical nurses in Canada.

  • Current electronic verification of records are maintained and shared by regulators but are not consistent between different nursing categories such as LPNs, RNs and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs).

  • Occurring from July 1 to 5, 2023, the ICN Congress is bringing together national nursing associations, global health leaders, expert speakers, clinicians, students and academics from around the world to build relationships and share nursing and health-related best practices, research and knowledge.

  • The ICN Congress meets every two years and this is the first time in 26 years that Canada has been the host country. The ICN 2023 Congress is hosted by ICN in partnership with the Canadian Nurses Association, the national professional association for nurses in Canada.

  • On June 14, 2023, the Government of Canada and Chief Nursing Officer hosted the Nursing Retention Forum with key members of the nursing community to co-develop a toolkit with evidence-informed practical strategies, such as mental health and wellness supports, that employers and health authorities can implement to support nursing retention within their organizations.

  • In addition, the Government of Canada is advancing other work to address the nursing shortage and health workforce crisis through initiatives such as the Coalition for Action for Health Workers, and the announcement of $2.4 million to the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing to support the implementation and evaluation of a National Nurse Residency Program.

  • On August 23, 2022, Health Canada announced that it had appointed Dr. Leigh Chapman as Chief Nursing Officer, to look at pan-Canadian nursing issues and providing strategic advice to Health Canada on priority policy and program areas.

Associated links


Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

Page details

Date modified: