Health & Wellness

Canada Needs More Nurses

We’re facing a shortage of nurses and there’s little indication things will improve


A report from the hiring website recently warned that as Canada’s senior population increases, the country faces a shortage of nurses, especially in urgent care—intensive care units and emergency rooms. The number of nursing jobs available has surged by 77% since Statistics Canada began keeping track in 2015, but many of those jobs are remaining unfilled.

Though Employment and Social Development Canada had predicted that the nursing field would grow more than any other between 2017 and 2026, the number of nurses per 10,000 adults hasn’t changed appreciably since 2016, having plateaued after growing from 90 nurses per 10,000 adults to 113 between 2000 to 2016.

Indeed reports that online postings for nursing jobs aren’t getting the attention they used to. In 2019, postings for nursing jobs got only 35% of the clicks the average job got, whereas they used to draw 50%. Job postings for emergency room and intensive care units get especially low response rates, the site notes. The lowest click rates are found in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island.

Vacancies are being held open longer and longer, statistics show. In 2016, 21% of nursing posts were vacant for 90 days or more. By the second quarter of 2019, vacancies exceeding 90 days were up to 26%.

Nurses’ wages rose between 2000 and 2011, but then began dropping.

“Despite a growing labour shortage, nursing wages haven’t responded, registering slower growth than the rest of the economy,” Brendan Bernard, an Indeed Hiring Lab economist, told media.

“The unique structure of the nursing labour market helps explain why wages haven’t responded to the challenging hiring environment,” the Indeed report observes. “Four out of every five Canadians employed in nursing are covered by a union or collective bargaining agreement, and public funding levels appear to be a more important factor determining wages than competition for workers.”

“Meanwhile,” Bernard said, “the fiscal outlooks of provincial governments responsible for most healthcare spending are generally bleak.”










Photo: iStock/Ridofranz.