March 1, 2022

Government and Nurses Collaborate to Help Address Challenges Facing the Nursing Profession

Executive Council

Health and Community Services

March 1, 2022


Today, the Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Honourable John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services, joined Yvette Coffey, President of the Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador (RNU), to announce a number of measures to help improve the workplace environment as well as the recruitment and retention of registered nurses and nurse practitioners in the province.

On April 4 and 5, 2022, a  virtual think tank event will take place to explore issues and challenges, listen to the lived experience of registered nurses, identify opportunities and chart a path forward to address the concerns and challenges facing the nursing profession. The goal of this event is to strategize innovative short-term measures to improve the workplace and the retention and recruitment of registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Newfoundland and Labrador. More than 100 people will participate in the event, including RNU members, RNU Board of Directors and staff. Managers, staff and senior officials from the Regional Health Authorities and various Provincial Government departments will also participate. The think tank event will help gather information to inform a report that will be used as the basis for recommendations to be presented to the recently announced recruitment and retention office for healthcare professionals.

A Request for Proposals (RFP) has been issued for a Registered Nurse Workforce Research initiative aimed at understanding the shift in the nursing workforce, including an inability to fill permanent positions, both full and part-time. The trend of exiting employees and new graduates taking casual positions is contributing to staffing shortages in the province and adversely impacting the provision of health services.

A second RFP will be issued this week for the development of a Health Human Resource Plan for the province. As the population ages and the demographics change, the Provincial Government wants to ensure it is providing the right care for residents, in the right place, at the right time, by the most appropriate provider. The RFP was developed with the assistance of the Workforce Readiness Group of Health Accord NL, and key stakeholders were engaged to provide input on the RFP. The successful proponent will be required to conduct a jurisdictional scan and extensive engagement with stakeholders.

Additionally, a third RFP will also be issued this week for a Nursing Core Staffing Review spanning the continuum of care in select sites across the four Regional Health Authorities. The purpose of this review is to analyze current core staffing methods and provide recommendations and actions for improvement. The analysis will outline the impact of current staffing levels and models on patient care and patient outcomes.

Recognizing the high number of Registered Nurse vacancies across the province, government has allocated $420,000 for the implementation of an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) Bursary Program to support up to 42 individuals to complete the IEN Bridging Program offered by the Centre for Nursing Studies. The program, which is followed by a four-month on-site practical component, generally takes 12-18 months to complete and allows internationally educated nurses to address any gaps that may have been identified in their national assessment which evaluates their credentials against Canadian standards for nursing.

In October 2021, government committed to a suite of measures to expand the supply of health care professionals such as nurses, including recruitment incentives such as increasing the number of seats in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program by twenty-five percent by implementing a rural program with remote teaching, along with a new provincial recruitment office for health care professionals. A new Assistant Deputy Minister for this office is currently being hired and its establishment within the Department of Health and Community Services will follow in short order.

The Provincial Government will continue to work on a number of additional initiatives with the RNU and others, including the launch of a recruitment campaign this coming spring.



“We know health care professionals, including registered nurses, face many challenges working in our health care system. I have the honour of working alongside them, and I see the realities they face every day. We are committed to turning the tide, and we are pleased to be working collaboratively to develop strategies to help make working conditions the best they can be to both keep our health care workers here, but also attract new ones to fill the gap.These initiatives are a good first step towards addressing some of the core issues, and we will continue to work with the nursing community to improve their workplace.”

Honourable Andrew Furey

Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador


“It is important that we work with the nursing community to problem solve around the issues facing their profession such as workload and staffing challenges. We recognize the significant recruitment and retention challenges facing not only registered nurses and nurse practitioners, but all health care sectors. We won’t solve these issues overnight, but today signals movement in a positive direction toward addressing some of the immediate concerns.”

Honourable John Haggie

Minister of Health and Community Services


“Well before COVID-19, registered nurses and nurse practitioners were under extreme stress due to workload and staffing shortages. The challenges facing nursing are not new. They are also not unique to Newfoundland and Labrador. We recognize the provincial government’s commitment and interest in working together to build a brighter future for nursing in our province. While these measures won’t fix all the issues or bring immediate change, they are positive steps. We look forward to continued collaboration to create healthier workplaces and address recruitment and retention.”

Yvette Coffey

President of the Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador




Learn more

Initiatives Aim to Improve Primary Care Access in Newfoundland and Labrador

Follow us on Twitter @GovNL and @HCS_GovNL

Like us on Facebook


Media contacts

Meghan McCabe

Office of the Premier



Nancy Hollett

Health and Community Services

709-729-6554, 327-7878


Karyn Whelan

Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador