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CIHI data reveals more nurses overall but fewer of them working in nursing

May 29, 2020 — This week, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) has released its Nursing in Canada, 2019, data tables. The CIHI data, which are released every year, paint a picture of Canada’s nursing workforce. Of the 439,975 regulated nurses in Canada in 2019, 6,159 are nurse practitioners, 300,669 are registered nurses, 6,050 are registered psychiatric nurses, and 127,097 are licensed practical nurses (known as registered practical nurses in Ontario). These numbers indicate a growth rate of 1.9% from 2018, with nurse practitioners showing the largest increase, at 8.1%.

“The increase in numbers of nurse practitioners is encouraging, as it will support better access to health-care for people living in Canada. Provincial and territorial governments and employers are to be commended for their recognition of the value of nurses in these roles,” said Claire Betker, president of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA). She continued, “We are concerned though, that while the overall number of regulated nurses increased at a rate greater than population growth, the number working in nursing actually decreased slightly since 2018. In 2019 nearly 40,000 nurses were not employed in health care – and that is a concern in a country where we often hear stories of shortages.”

The proportion of nurses working in rural and remote settings in Canada also declined, perpetuating a vexing trend that is difficult to tackle. “The decline of nurses in all regulated categories working in rural and remote regions is a serious concern,” added Michael Villeneuve, CNA’s chief executive officer. The overall proportion of nurses working in these areas is already lower than the rest of the country, and people living these communities are some of the most vulnerable. “We know it’s a tough challenge, but it is important that governments and employers double down on efforts to recruit and retain nurses to deliver care in these communities, including remote Indigenous communities,” Villeneuve added.

There is good news in the rising proportion of males and younger overall age of the nursing workforce. “It’s encouraging to see that the male regulated nursing supply is growing at over three times the rate of the female nursing supply. This change in the gender balance will help to establish a more diverse nursing workforce that is representative of the population it serves,” said Betker. She added, “After many years of concern, we’re pleased to see that it appears the average age of nurses is going down. This will help the supply of nurses in the years to come.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the full Nursing in Canada, 2019, report is not expected to be released from CIHI until sometime in July (date to be confirmed). The data on which the report will be written is available now.


About the Canadian Nurses Association
The Canadian Nurses Association is a powerful, unified voice for the Canadian nursing profession. We represent regulated and retired nurses in all 13 provinces and territories. We advance the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

For more information please contact:
Eve Johnston
Media and Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association


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