Canada names new chief nursing officer


As strains in the health-care system continue to be felt across the country, the federal government has named Leigh Chapman as Canada’s chief nursing officer (CNO) to be a voice for nurses at the federal level, and to provide strategic advice from a nursing perspective to Health Canada.

“Many health-care professionals, including nurses, are currently facing enormous challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic… In fact, there are already a number of jurisdictions in Canada reporting nursing shortages, which is having an impact on the functioning of emergency rooms and other critical health services that Canadians need and deserve,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in unveiling Chapman as the pick for the position.

“With this growing crisis, we need to support our nurses, make sure they are heard and that their challenges are met with solutions. We need the right advice and expertise to inform our path forward,” Duclos said on Tuesday.

Chapman— a registered nurse (RN) with a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Nursing – will be filling a role the Liberals vowed to reinstate earlier this year.

She will participate in the development of broad health system policy, work with regulatory bodies and educators, play a convening role with provincial and territorial governments, and represent the federal government at public health forums within Canada and abroad, Duclos said.

Among the issues she’ll be advising on are workforce planning, long-term care, palliative care, mental health care, and substance use.

In February, when Duclos announced the federal government would be reinstating the position scrapped in 2012, noting the role nurses played during the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations applauded the move.

“The CNO will strengthen Canada’s health system by providing strategic policy advice from a nursing lens to Health Canada. It will also be essential in supporting a national response to the significant shortages in health human resources that exist across the country, and in stabilizing the nursing workforce beyond the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Canadian Nurses Association in a statement at the time.

The assignment will be for two years, with the potential for an extension.

Canada’s first chief nursing officer was appointed in 1968, and in 1999 the Office of Nursing Policy was created within the Strategic Policy Branch of Health Canada.

The decision to drop the position a decade ago was due to “realigning resources across priorities,” according to the government.

“However, in this current environment, the CNO is viewed as an important role and has been resourced accordingly,” the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

More to come.

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