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Hear students discuss under-reported news on CJTR's Human Rights Radio

Recently Canadian provincial governments have begun allowing lower-paid Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) to replace Registered Nurses (RNs) in hospitals. RNs argue that LPNs have less training, and fear this may represent lowered healthcare standards.

LPNs say they are well trained for their assigned duties, and compare their education to working older nurses who received diplomas before nursing became a university-based degree program.


Media reports have largely framed the debate as a turf war between professional associations. However, at stake is a fundamental question of potential cost-savings over quality in a sector that deals with people's very lives. There has been little focus on explaining the actual training and qualifications required for each group, or the role health care funding plays in driving the change.

Many supporters of this change have stated that limited availability of RNs has forced the recent changes. RNs, on the other hand, say there are enough nurses willing to work, but that their existing shifts are being given to LPNs.

There was some coverage of the issue by Alberta’s Global TV affiliates in 2013, however there has been little follow-up since. In 2014, Saskatchewan nurses held a special meeting to discuss similar changes in their province. Saskatchewan media coverage had also focused mainly on Alberta, although the trend is countrywide. The claim that RN shifts are being given to LPNs has not been widely reported.



Karen Born, Infran Dhalla & Mary Ferguson-Paré, “Evidence-based Hospital Nurse Staffing: The Challenges,” Healthy Debate, Sept. 26, 2013.

Meaghan Craig, “Saskatchewan registered nurses speak out about proposed bylaw changes.” Global News Regina, Oct. 7. 2014.

College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta, “Editorial: Let’s Get Some Facts Straight,” Sept. 23, 2011.

Canadian Council for Practical Nurse Regulators, “Become an LPN/RN,” n.d.

Andrea R. Walker, Randall Olson & Suzanne Tytler, “Collabrative Nursing Practice: RNs and LPNs working together,” Canadian Nurse, June 2013.


Student researcher: Dylan Bernhardt (University of Regina)

Faculty advisor: Patricia Elliott (University of Regina)

About this project

“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.”
—Walter Cronkite

The School of Journalism's Top 25 Under-Reported Stories was developed in partnership with Project Censored. Project Censored was founded in 1976 as part of a media literacy course in Sonoma, California. Today it is operated by the Media Freedom Foundation. Hundreds of students across the U.S. and around the world contribute information about under-reported stories. Every year, the Media Freedom Foundation picks 25 to publish in their annual book. Project Censored on the Web.