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Nursing employment in Canada

Finding a nursing job in Canada may be different than in your home country and you may need help finding job vacancies, updating your resume, writing cover letters, preparing for interviews, and understanding what Canadian employers are looking for.

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is Canada’s reference on occupations. It provides job descriptions, occupational statistics and labour market information. The NOC classifies the following nursing occupations in Canada:

Registered Nurses

They work independently or in collaboration with others and assess, plan, implement and evaluate care for clients. They coordinate healthcare, deliver nursing services and support clients in their self-care decisions and actions in situations of health, illness, injury and disability  at all stages of life.

Nurse Practitioners

They have additional education and experience and autonomously diagnose clients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe drugs and substances.

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Credentials recognition

One of the first things you need to do is to find out the requirements to work as a Registered Nurse in Canada. Therefore, after you get your immigration visa, get in touch with the regulatory body that governs the nursing profession in the province or territory where you intend to settle in Canada. They will advise you about the required documentation and the fees for assessment. It is highly recommended that you take this step before you arrive in Canada.

It’s also important not to rush your application and only do that once you are fully aware of the licensure procedure and the regulatory body’s expectations from you.
Your education will need to be assessed to see if it is equivalent to Canadian nursing education. As well, you may be required to demonstrate your knowledge and skills through competency –based assessment.

The assessment of qualification for internationally educated nurses is handled by the regulatory body in each province and territory. They also handle the scheduling of nurses to write the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination. Note that you may be allowed to write the CRNE in a province or territory other the one you reside in. However, you cannot write the exam outside Canada.

Even if you are already licensed to practice as a registered nurse in Canada, employers may request that you provide them with a formal assessment of your academic credentials. Note that evaluation services offer expert advice on how your qualifications obtained abroad compare with academic credentials obtained in Canada; also, their evaluation is advisory only and does not guarantee recognition of you qualifications for employment or certification purposes in Canada.

Credentials assessment services 

World Education Services (WES) – Ontario
International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) – Alberta
The International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) – British Columbia

To find more organizations and agencies providing credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here. You can also visit the Foreign Credentials Referral Office website for information, path-finding and referral services on foreign credential recognition to help internationally trained workers like you succeed and put their skills to work in Canada more quickly.

Best locations

Nursing employment is growing in Canada after several years of health-care restructuring and hospital downsizing. There is a big demand for RNs with skills and experience in specialty areas, such as emergency, critical care and operating room, and those who are willing to work in smaller or isolated communities.

Though the high demand for qualified nurses is throughout Canada, nowhere is this need for nurses more pronounced than in the province of Quebec. According to the Canadian Nurses Association, if healthcare needs continue to rise at current rates, Canada will need 60,000 nurses to fill its labour shortage by 2022. One of the main reasons cited for this shortage is an aging population that is increasingly in need of health services.

Major employers

In Canada, registered nurses are employed in traditional and specialized health care settings or in other community settings. These include hospitals, nursing homes, extended-care facilities, community health agencies, health centres and walk-in clinics, rehabilitation centres, mental health centres, doctors’ offices, schools, government, prisons, companies, and private homes. Nurses may also be self-employed. There is a movement toward community-based health care, so in the future there may be fewer jobs in hospitals and more in public health areas.

Registered psychiatric nurses are employed in these centres and programs:

  • Acute care hospitals and clinics
  • Child and adolescent psychiatric treatment
  • Long-term psychiatric facilities
  • Crisis teams and suicide prevention programs
  • Substance abuse and addictions programs
  • Long-term geriatric care and home care
  • Residential and community programs for the developmentally challenged
  • Community mental health programs
  • Corrections – institutional and community based
  • Palliative care
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Private practice, family therapy and counselling
  • Social services, child services and youth centres
  • Post-secondary educational institutions
  • Community outreach programs

You can visit the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website. This special designation recognizes Canada’s best employers for recent immigrants. These employers offer interesting programs to assist new Canadians in making the transition to a new workplace — and a new life in Canada.

Sector reports

Regulated Nurses, 2017 Canada and Jurisdictional Highlights 
This report draws on data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s Nursing Database, which covers the three regulated nursing professions in Canada: registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs). It provides information about the nursing supply and workforce in Canada.

National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2018
This annual report provides an overview of health care spending trends from 1975 to 2018. The report draws upon data compiled from CIHI’s National Health Expenditure (NHEX) Database, Canada’s most comprehensive source of information on health care spending. It provides an overview of how much money is spent on health care annually, what areas money is spent on, and where the money comes from.