The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) is pointing to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) that demonstrates the need for safe staffing to protect patient safety.

Amidst chronic staffing shortages, hospital inpatient units across Canada have seen a rise in the rate of unintentional harm to patients for the third year in a row, according to CIHI. At the same time, nurses and health care professionals in these units logged 14 million hours of overtime in 2021-2022 – a 50% increase from the previous year.

“Nurses have been sounding the alarm on patient safety and unsafe working conditions for years,” said CFNU President Linda Silas. “Nurses are shouldering the weight of an overcapacity healthcare system where overtime has become the go-to band-aid to systemic staffing shortages. In the absence of staff to replace nurses when their shifts end, they are working increasingly long hours. It’s not safe for nurses, and it’s certainly not safe for patients.”

Silas pointed out that nurses overwhelmingly cite high workloads and insufficient staffing levels as the top reasons they are considering leaving their workplace or the profession altogether. More than 75% of nurses report workplaces that are regularly overcapacity, demonstrating the widespread challenge.

In the face of these staffing challenges, the use of costly private nursing agencies to fill staffing needs has ballooned with an 80% increase in the volume of purchased hours – up to 1.5 million hours in 2021-2022.

To read the full statement, please visit this link.