March 2021

What happened at Council?

CNO’s Council, which is its board of directors, met on March 3 and 4, 2021. We have a new issue of Council Decides that recaps these quarterly meetings. Here’s a look at the highlights of the meeting, including some of the decisions Council made and some of CNO’s exciting upcoming projects.

Nursing Program Approval

At the March meeting, Council approved all Ontario nursing programs. Find a detailed list on our Program Approval page.

Program Approval is CNO’s objective, standardized and evidence-based process for assessing entry-level nursing education programs in Ontario. The process means that the public can have confidence that graduates of Ontario nursing programs are prepared to practice nursing safely, competently and ethically. Once CNO assesses the program, Council has the final authority to grant a program approval status.

Electing the Executive Committee

Council re-elected Sandra Robinson, NP, as President and Naomi Thick, RN, as Vice-President RN. Council elected Terry Holland, RPN, as Vice-President RPN, and Maria Sheculski and Diane Thompson as public members. Their terms of office will begin in June.

The Executive Committee provides leadership to Council, facilitates the efficient and effective functioning of Council and committees, fulfils the statutory role of the Patient Relations Committee, and makes decisions between Council meetings. See more info about the Executive Committee at:

Strategy 2021-2024 in action

Our new Strategic Plan 2021-2024 emphasizes the fundamental role CNO plays in preventing harm before it occurs and influencing the broader health care system to create better patient safety outcomes. At the March meeting, Council heard about exciting initiatives that show the new strategy in action, including modernizing practice standards and applicant assessment.

Modernizing practice standards
In January 2021, we announced a new project to modernize the practice standards (read more in the January issue of The Standard). While still in the early stages, we have already conducted a literature review to gather evidence, formed an advisory group of nurses to gather perspectives, and heard from other regulators who recently modernized their standards to find out what lessons they learned.

Modernizing applicant assessment
CNO is accountable for making sure that everyone who is a nurse in Ontario is prepared to provide competent, safe and ethical nursing practice. This year, we started a comprehensive review of the application process. The goals of this review are to make our assessment practices more efficient, update our policies related to the registration requirements, and reduce the time it takes qualified applicants to become eligible to register in Ontario.

By reviewing the process, we saw an opportunity to make a difference for international applicants. Applicants who have successfully completed the NCLEX-RN exam on or after Jan. 1, 2015 will meet the nursing education requirement. The NCLEX-RN is a valid and reliable measure of an applicant’s entry-level nursing knowledge, skill and judgment.

At its March meeting, Council approved amending the process for evaluating applicants for registration as an RN in Ontario. Now, it will include passing the NCLEX-RN as evidence of education program equivalence.

CNO will contact all applicants to whom the new assessment process applies and provide them with their next steps in the application process.

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