CNA News Room

CFNU & CNA call on the federal government to reinstate the position of federal chief nursing officer

Ottawa, November 9, 2020 — In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Health Minister Patricia Hajdu, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), with the support of the International Council of Nurses (ICN), urge the federal government to immediately reinstate the role of federal chief nursing officer (CNO), with appropriate resources and senior level decision-making responsibility and authority. The CNO is a pillar of the Nursing Now Canada campaign, which was created in 2019 in advance of the year of the nurse and midwife.

The CNO position in Canada was eliminated in the last decade. The resulting fragmented approach to nursing policy weakens our national capacity to appropriately respond to crises like COVID-19 and erodes our ability to build resilient and crisis-proof systems for the future.

“The CNO plays an essential role in providing leadership on nursing care, addressing the significant shortages in health human resources documented in many parts of our country, and bridging the growing gap between health-care needs and services,” said CFNU president Linda Silas.

“When CNA began advocating to the federal government to reinstate the CNO in 2019, no one could have guessed the significant role a CNO could have played in 2020. Now, as our nation continues to grapple with COVID-19, reinstating the CNO is even more imperative. The CNO would work with a pan-Canadian mandate to support and guide the federal government during and well beyond the pandemic,” said CNA president Tim Guest.

The current significant gaps in nursing policy and leadership undermine Canada’s ability to fulfil its commitment to achieving the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Annette Kennedy, president of ICN, highlighted the importance of empowering nurses in leadership positions to advance the agenda for universal health coverage and achieving the SDGs. “As the largest group of health professionals in the world, nurses are critical to the achievement of global health priorities and overcoming the health challenges the world is facing due to COVID-19,” said Kennedy.

The CNO role exists today in some provinces and territories, with great efficacy and success. The moment is ripe to appoint an effective and empowered federal nursing leader to support the government’s health policy development. Going forward, the CNO must be recognized as an essential part of delivering better health care for everyone in Canada.


About the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) is the voice of nearly 200,000 unionized nurses and nursing students across the country. We are proud to advocate for our members and promote the nursing profession at the national and global level, and we work tirelessly to protect the quality of health care for our patients and our universal public health care system.

For more information, please contact:

Lauren Snowball
Communications Officer
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Cell: 613-868-5702

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 health care for all people in Canada.

For more information, please contact:

Eve Johnston
Media and Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
Cell: 613-282-7859