October 19, 2022

Alarming New Research Findings Released as Registered Nurses’ Union Enters Contract Negotiations

St. John’s, October 19, 2022 – The Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador (RNU) have now entered the collective bargaining process with the provincial government amidst a health care crisis.

Research results from a recent survey commissioned by RNU reveal the state of nursing is dire.

The survey, conducted by MQO Research during the summer of 2022, sought perspectives of the current state of health care in the province from the public and RNU members.

The report findings are clear: the public and registered nurses are calling for urgent action to address the nursing crisis.

Asked their perceptions of current workload, 88% of registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) said they believe understaffing has resulted in unsafe conditions for patients.

Public confidence in the health care system in the province has also dropped significantly considering the current staffing shortages. Three-quarters of respondents said they felt that the quality of health care in NL has gotten worse over the last two years, (75%, up from 53% in 2021).

As part of the collective bargaining process, the RNU is calling on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to better support retention efforts for existing RNs and NPs.

“While the province is currently making efforts to incentivize new hires, the long-term success of these recruitment efforts requires an effective and immediate plan to stabilize the workforce and retain our current registered nurses,” says Yvette Coffey, RN and President of RNU.  “We must do everything to support and invest in the RNs we have in the system today. We can’t afford to lose one more.”

Unfortunately, the risk of the nursing crisis becoming worse is real. A staggering 92% of RNU members surveyed felt their current workload was increasing their risk of burnout and fatigue, with 88% agreeing it’s contributing to high levels of sick leave. Two-thirds have indicated they’ve seriously considered leaving the nursing profession over the past two years.

“These new research findings further sound the alarm bells on the critical need to reach a fair collective agreement that stabilizes nursing and protects patient care,” continues Coffey. “There’s no question a strong deal will make the difference between improvement and catastrophe for the province’s health care system which is currently beyond broken.”

RNU is also highlighting the need to introduce NP funding models and allow NPs to operate clinics under the public system in response to the critical shortage of primary health care providers throughout the province. Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador strongly agree with this solution with 83% of survey respondents in favour of publicly funded NP-led clinics.

Coffey has expressed gratitude to members of the public for the overwhelming expressions of support and concern for patient care in the province. “We encourage everyone to support the registered nurses and nurse practitioners by lobbying their local MHAs and using social media to share how their loved ones have experienced the health care system.”

RNU is inviting members of the public to attend a rally in support of safe patient care on Wednesday, October 26 at 12:15 p.m. at the CLB Armoury, 82 Harvey Road, St. John’s.

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Media Contact:

Karyn Whelan

Registered Nurses’ Union






2022 Public Opinion Survey: A Snapshot

  • 68% feel that the current shortage of RNs is critical and immediate action is required.
  • 83% are in favour of publicly funded clinics led by nurse practitioners (NP).
  • 75% feel that the quality of healthcare in Newfoundland and Labrador has gotten worse over the past two years.

2022 RNU Members Survey: A Snapshot

  • 86% say their work environment has gotten worse over the last year; the two most-cited reasons are being overworked and lack of nursing staff.
  • 81% say they have experienced burnout in the past 12 months.
  • 66% have seriously considered leaving the nursing profession over the past two years.
  • 77% indicated that there are nursing vacancies, permanent or temporary, in their workplace.
  • 20% plan to retire within the next three years (1,060 members), and 12% are currently eligible for retirement.
  • 56% say their workplace operates in overcapacity either often or always.
  • Only 8% reported NOT experiencing workplace violence in the past month.