NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Nursing Shortage In Canada

April 19, 2000

Canada is in the grip of a serious shortage of registered nurses that by all accounts will grow worse in years to come. More Canadian nurses are leaving the profession, and fewer see it as a viable career option.

  • For instance, of Canada's 1990 nursing graduates, 20 percent had left the profession five years later, and nearly 10 percent of nursing graduates emigrated to the United States between 1995 and 1997, mostly to find work.
  • The most comprehensive national study, published by the Canadian Nurses Association, predicts a shortage in Canada (except Quebec) of between 59,000 and 113,000 by 2011.
  • By contrast, there were 227,651 registered nurses employed in nursing in 1998 -- 48 percent of whom worked only part time, up from 39 percent in 1993.
  • Quebec, which has a nurses association separate from the Canadian Nurses Association, predicts its own shortage of 11,000 nurses between 2001 and 2015.

The Canadian Nurses Association's study was based on figures up to 1997, and its predictions are now considered conservative.

Source: David Spurgeon, "Canada Faces Nurse Shortage," British Medical Journal, April 15, 2000.


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