Nursing in Canada

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Two nurses with baby in nursery at Toronto East General and Orthopaedic Hospital, 1955

Nurses in Canada practice nursing in a wide variety of specialties.



Most provinces in Canada prefer any registered nurse to have at least a bachelor's degree (preferably a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, BScN), although Quebec grants RN status to graduates from college. Many practising nurses are still college graduates, but those entering nursing now are required or encouraged to enter at the university level.

Types of nurses

Legal regulation

The profession of nursing is regulated at the provincial and territorial level in keeping with the principles of professional regulation endorsed by the International Council of Nurses. The College of Nurses of Ontario regulates both RNs and RPNs in contrast to the other provinces and territories where RNs and LPNs are regulated by separate bodies. In the western provinces, psychiatric nurses are governed by distinct legislation.

All registered nurses and nurse practitioners in the province of Alberta are expected to maintain their clinical competence in order receive an annual practice permit from the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta which also sets standards for scope of practice and provides practice support.


A circa 1910 postcard of the Anne Baillie Building in Kingston, Ontario

The role that nurses have played in the development of Canada has been recognized through the designation of seven National Historic Sites of Canada related to nursing. Five nurses' residences (the Ann Baillie Building,[1] Begbie Hall,[2] the Hersey Pavilion,[3] the Pavillon Mailloux[4] and the St. Boniface Hospital Nurses' Residence[5]) were designated in commemoration of the growing professionalism of nursing and of the expanded role of nurses in health care over the course of the 20th century. The La Corne Nursing Station[6] and the Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost[7] were designated, in part, in honour of the role played by nurses in delivering health care to isolated areas.


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