Unifor celebrates National Nursing Week 2024: Changing Lives; Shaping Tomorrow

May 2, 2024


During National Nursing Week, May 6-12, 2024, Unifor proudly honours the dedication and unwavering commitment of Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) across Canada. Unifor represents 4,000 Registered or Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses who work in hospitals, private and municipal long-term care homes.

This year’s theme, “Changing Lives. Shaping Tomorrow.” reflects the pivotal role these professionals play in transforming health care and crafting the future of patient care.

From the early 1900s, when nursing began to take shape as a regulated profession, to the complex health care ecosystem of today, the journey of nurses, particularly RPNs and LPNs, has been one of growth and increased responsibility.

Initially established during times of need, such as the world wars, the roles of RPNs/LPNs have evolved significantly. By the mid-20th century, regulatory bodies across Canada began to formally recognize and increase the scope of practice for practical nurses, acknowledging their critical role in the expanding health care system.

Today, RPNs/LPNs are foundational to the health care system, and are often assigned responsibilities in a scope of practice nearly indistinguishable from RNs.

Governed under the same professional standards, RPNs and LPNs carry out many of the same tasks as RNs, and possess autonomy in their practice, often in complex clinical settings. Their education, continuous professional development, and regulatory standards equip them to provide exceptional care and meet the diverse needs of patients.

Despite their extensive skills and crucial roles, RPNs and LPNs often face challenges related to under-recognition and under-utilization. Systemic issues such as a lack of funding and increasing workloads further compound these challenges, underscoring the need for a concerted effort to address these disparities.

It is vital that we as a community recognize the immense value RPNs and LPNs bring to patient care and health outcomes. Unifor has long called upon health care institutions, policymakers, and the public to acknowledge and leverage the full potential of practical nurses.

As we celebrate this week, let us also commit to enhancing the professional environment for RPNs and LPNs, ensuring they can continue to excel and lead in their roles.

To all RPNs and LPNs: we see your hard work, your dedication, and your passion. Thank you for changing lives today and shaping the health care of tomorrow.

Download the Nursing Week social media shareable here.