Staffing and workload concerns represent the largest volume of concerns impacting professional practice and preventing registered nurses’ ability to provide safe, competent, ethical, appropriate, and high-quality patient care. 

The foundation of staffing and workload concerns is rooted in the inability to provide patient care aligned with legislative, regulatory, professional, and organizational obligations. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2017) states that safe staffing and workload strategies are foundational to healthy work environments, and “can improve nurses’ well-being and retention, improve the quality of patient care, and yield financial benefits for organizations” (p. 24).

Central to addressing breakdowns in professional practice, staffing, and workload, is utilizing the full measure of our SUN collective agreements to create healthy quality work environments that are supportive, appropriately oriented, and focused on registered nurses, patients, and patient safety. When registered nurses are expected to provide care without all required providers, resources, and supports consistent with proper patient care, then staffing and workload must be addressed.

Addressing Staffing and Workload Concerns

  • Know your legislated, regulatory, and organizational responsibilities, obligations, and expectations for registered nursing practice.
  • When organizational expectations impact professional practice and patient safety, involve your Local President, Local Nursing Advisory Committee Chair, and Nurse Practice Officer to develop a plan to find solutions.
  • Nursing Practice and Nursing Advisory Committee articles and appendices have been negotiated by SUN to provide an avenue to address professional practice concerns, staffing, and workload.
  • Complete Work Situation Reports (WSRs) after using low-level resolution and speaking with your Manager and/or designate for ANY professional practice, staffing, or workload issue that is not resolved in real-time.
  • SUN Locals who do not have explicit processes for Work Situation Reports (WSRs), Nursing Advisory Process, or escalation should contact their Local President and Nurse Practice Officer to discuss how best to address professional practice concerns.

Who to Contact for Professional Practice Assistance

  1. Local President:  Your Local President is your expert on your collective agreement and professional practice in your working environment.
  2. Nurse Practice Officers (NPOs):  Your Nurse Practice Officers are your SUN Provincial professional practice experts who support, advise, and intervene in professional practice. 
  3. Regulatory Bodies: Your regulatory bodies are your regulatory experts who are mandated for the protection of the public. They can help with the interpretation and application of minimum requirements and best practices in registered nursing practice. 
  4. Canadian Nurses Protective Society: Your regulatory body provides you with professional liability insurance through this organization. You can obtain confidential legal advice, review their publications on topics impacting professional practice, and complete continuing education through their monthly webinars.

Professional Practice Links and Resources




QUESTIONS? Contact SUN Provincial @

Regina                                                           Saskatoon
1-800-667-7060                                            1-800-667-3294