St. John’s, NL – The Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador (RNU) hosted an MHA Breakfast on safe Registered Nurse (RN) staffing today.  Over 15 MHAs attended the event and heard a presentation from Mike Villeneuve, a nurse leader well known across Canada for his work in health system policy and the future of nursing.

“Today, we presented extensive research on the impact of RN staffing,” said Debbie Forward, RNU President.  “The research is clear. RNs have the in-depth knowledge, skills and judgment that make them a vital profession in our health care system. When there are safe RN staffing levels and healthy work environments, patient outcomes improve and the cost to deliver health care decreases. It’s in everyone’s best interest that RN staffing practices are improved.”

MHAs were presented with research, stats and figures that illustrate just how valuable RNs are and how important it is to develop safe staffing practices in order to see more positive health outcomes for patients and a more fiscally responsible health care system. Among the research presented to MHAs was evidence that demonstrates that for every surgical patient added to the average RN workload, the risk of patient complications and death increases by 7%.

“RN safe staffing is a national issue. I have presented across the country to various provincial organizations on how to better utilize this incredible health resource: the RN,” said Villeneuve. “Newfoundland and Labrador has an aging population and high rates of chronic disease, which continues to put higher demands on the heath care system. There needs to be better staffing practices put in place, to ensure better health outcomes for patients at a lower cost to the people of the province.”

“In 2014-15, our province spent $48 million in overtime and sick leave for RNs,” said Forward. “Clearly, we are not staffing our facilities adequately. We need to be more efficient and less wasteful. If we have the right number of RNs to provide care in the first place, we would reduce this spending, while also creating safer patient care.”

As a first step in establishing safe RN staffing, RNU is calling for government to complete a core staffing review.  A core staffing review would examine the number and types of health care providers currently working in the system. The last review was done in the late ‘90s.

Click here Safe RN Staffing to access the presentation that was delivered to MHAs.






Media Contact:


Karyn Whelan




Michael Villeneuve, RN BScN MSc


Michael Villeneuve has held a variety of roles across nursing clinical practice, education, research, administration and policy. Villeneuve is a lecturer in public policy, leadership and administration at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto. He also operates an independent health policy consultancy in the National Capital Region and works with nursing associations, health care organizations and governments across Canada and internationally.


Since 2000, Mike has led or participated in numerous national and international health system initiatives, serving as senior policy consultant in Canada’s federal Office of Nursing Policy, a visiting consultant with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, scholar in residence at the Canadian Nurses Association and executive lead for the Canadian Nurses Association’s National Expert Commission.