Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU)

Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU)

June 11, 2009 10:18 ET

Nurses Remain Trapped in Vicious Circle of Illness, Injury and Overtime, New Report Says

Nurses call for changes to healthcare workplaces

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 11, 2009) - More nurses are working more overtime, shows a new report prepared by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. There are more nurses being injured or becoming ill, resulting in rising rates of absenteeism and overtime. The study, prepared by Infometrica, updates their previous studies on rates of overtime and absenteeism in the nursing workforce and provides further insight into causes of the nursing shortage.

"Adding more nurses to the workforce is not reducing overtime and illness and injury in the workplace," says Linda Silas, RN, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. "Without improvements to the nursing workplace, just adding more nurses is like adding water to a leaky boat."

Trends in Absenteeism and Overtime of the RN Workforce, reports:

- An average of 21, 500 publicly employed nurses were absent from work each week in 2008 due to illness or injury. This is an increase of 21% from 2005.

- The rate of absenteeism due to own illness or disability increased by 33.6 percent, in three years.

- Nurses worked 21,560,100 hours of overtime in 2008, the equivalent of 11,900 jobs. This is an increase of 10% over 2005, costing $879 million/year.

- The public sector nursing workforce grew by 16,600 since 2005.

"The workload of nurses in Canada is unsustainable. Improving nursing workplaces will save nurses their health and it will save the system the high costs of overtime," says Silas.

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is also launching today Think Nursing! Towards a Better Workplace, a project that documents the best research, initiatives and practice in regards to improving nursing workplaces. The research and stories of positive changes taking place in some nursing workplaces are online at

"We know that we can retain and recruit nurses by changing nurses' worklife," says Linda Silas. "We need to break the vicious circle of absenteeism and overtime, for nurses and their patients."

Trends in Overtime and Absenteeism in the RN Workforce is available at

These studies were launched on the occasion of the 14th Biennial Convention of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
    Pamela Foster