Survey gives GNWT a better understanding of nurses’ wants and needs across the territory

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A What We Heard Report including results from the Northwest Territories Nurse Retention and Recruitment Survey 2021 are being released today by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT). The information gathered in this survey will help the GNWT understand its strengths, as well as where improvements can be made to address the current nursing shortage.

The Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut developed the survey with funding from the GNWT Department of Health and Social Services and the Government of Nunavut Department of Health. In total, 519 registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed practical nurses, and registered psychiatric nurses working in the Northwest Territories participated.

The online survey was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, in November 2021. At that time many nurses had experienced almost two years of constant pressure at work. Almost 94 percent of respondents said they’d experienced burnout in the last 12 months, and 79 percent had considered leaving the profession in the previous two years.

Just over half, 55 percent, said they were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their present working conditions, and 69 percent felt their compensation was adequate.

Nurses indicated that changes such as annual financial incentives, increased flexibility in their schedule, and having access to more professional development opportunities, would make them rethink their desire to leave. Almost every respondent, 99 percent, said continuing education was important to them.

Professional development, along with the northern lifestyle, salary, and the opportunity to nurse in remote communities, are the factors that attracted nurses to work in the NWT.

Using surveys to better understand the experiences of nurses and other health professionals, is a commitment that has been made in The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services System Human Resources Plan 2021-2024. This plan outlines strategies to address shortages of health and social service professionals, including nurses, across the territory.

The plan calls for transforming the NWT Health and Social Services System into a learning organization that provides a variety of Professional Development, Academic Support, eLearning, and Mentorship programs designed to attract and retain professionals.


“Nurses are essential to our health care system. Understanding their experiences and the perceptions they have of their workplace is vital when it comes to recruiting and retaining them in the NWT.

“Our plan to transform the NWT Health and Social Services system into a learning hub for professional development aligns very well with what nurses have told us they value about working here. I believe this work will help us with our current nursing shortage.”

  • Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services

Quick facts

  • Overall, 1,865 participants in the NWT and Nunavut were asked to take part in the 2021 survey, and 847 respondents completed the survey – for an overall response rate of 45% (and a confidence level of +/- 2%, 19 times out of 20)
  • 69% of nurses feel their compensation is adequate compared to similar positions in other provinces and/or territories
  • 42% of nurses surveyed in the NWT feel they do not have the resources they need to do the job
  • 71% of NWT nurses said they have experienced workplace violence
  • The World Health Organization predicts a shortfall of 18 million healthcare professionals worldwide by 2030, 50% of whom will be nurses and midwives
  • 88.4% of nurses reported being satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the opportunities they have to use their skills and abilities to their fullest potential: 
    • RNs (77.9%) and RPNs (100%) are the most satisfied with opportunities

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For media requests, please contact:

Jeremy Bird

Manager, Communications

Health and Social Services

Government of the Northwest Territories