Our COVID-19 story: how CNO responded to the pandemic

When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, many organizations and individuals had to make quick decisions under circumstances that have never existed before. As a nursing regulator, our purpose to protect the public by promoting safe nursing practice began to unfold in new ways as the system mobilized to respond to the pandemic.

For the safety of staff and the public, we closed our office building as soon as Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 17, and staff began working from home. We already had an established teleworking environment and a pandemic plan, so this move was relatively seamless.

For application processes that relied on mail delivery, we quickly implemented online solutions, such as online forms, electronic faxing and we encouraged people to send us documents by email instead of paper mail.  

Knowing this global pandemic could increase the demand for nursing care, we immediately began inviting recently resigned and eligible Non-Practising class nurses to reinstate their registration with CNO. We quickly made upgrades to our online application portal to allow these nurses to bypass payment, because we waived the reinstatement fee during the emergency.

We also began planning for a solution that would allow us to quickly and safely register a wider range of qualified nurses to support Ontario’s health care system. The answer was enacting the Emergency Assignment Class (EAC), ­a special class of registration designed under legislation to expedite short term registration of nurses during an unprecedented crisis, such as a pandemic.

For the first time ever, we enacted the EAC on March 23, 2020 for the sole purpose of allowing qualified nurses to help during the pandemic. This included ... 

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2020 Quality Assurance program simplified due to pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the nursing profession in many ways. We recognize the demands many of you have and continue to experience. In response to the challenging circumstances nurses have faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CNO has streamlined the Quality Assurance (QA) program for 2020.


This year, QA will focus on supporting nurses in completing the practice reflection component of your self assessment. “It has been a time of significant change and learning, which provides an opportunity for nurses to reflect and examine their practice,” says Carol Timmings, CNO’s Chief Quality Officer. “Our goal is to support you in being reflective practitioners.”


Along with your practice reflection, you are still required by legislation to complete your annual learning plan. We will not be selecting nurses for Practice Assessment this year. This modified approach makes sure that you can meet your QA obligations while recognizing the unique situation the pandemic has caused for many nurses.


Reflecting on your practice is fundamental to safe, quality nursing care. It helps you determine your areas of strengths and where you need to improve. To help you reflect on your unique experiences, we have developed new reflective questions. These questions can be used to reflect on your practice day-to-day or to help develop or update your annual Learning Plan, which remains a legislated requirement for all nurses.


Visit our website for more information about QA 2020 and to use the new reflective questions, as well as other QA resources. For specific questions about the program, contact


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