June 2021

What did Council decide?

CNO’s board of directors, which is called Council, meets quarterly to provide oversight, insight and foresight into CNO’s strategic direction. At their June 3 meeting, Council discussed the new REx-PN™ exam and our work to modernize the practice standards. Council also approved five new nursing education programs, the 2020 Annual Report for submission to the Minister of Health, and a new cut-off date for having passed the NCLEX-RN as part of evaluating the education of internationally educated RN applicants.

Annual Report

Council reviewed CNO’s 2020 Annual Report, called “Rising to the Challenge.” The report highlights some of CNO’s activities in 2020, with a focus on how we responded to every unplanned development with resilience and agility. The annual report explains our work and its impact on the people of Ontario. You can read the report here.

Council voted to approve the 2020 Annual Report for submission to the Minister of Health. When we submit the report, we will include our audited financial statements for 2020. You can find more information about the audit on page 88 of Council’s briefing package.       

Education assessment date change for internationally educated RN applicants

Council approved April 1, 2013 as the cut-off date for having passed the NCLEX-RN as part of the evaluation that is used to ensure internationally educated registered nurse applicants have the knowledge, skills and judgment to meet the education requirement.

This change was prompted by continuous review of our processes and feedback about the previous January 1, 2015 cut-off date. This is only the beginning of our ongoing work to meet our Strategic Plan outcome that applicants for registration will experience processes that are evidence-informed, fair, inclusive and effective, contributing to improved public access to safe nursing care. Our focus for the coming years will be on transforming our registration processes to meet this objective. Read about the change here.          

New nursing programs receive preliminary approval

Council granted preliminary approval to these new nursing programs:

  • Algonquin College’s new practical nursing program for Internationally Educated Nurses

  • Georgian College’s new baccalaureate program in nursing

  • Nipissing University’s two new baccalaureate programs in nursing

  • York University’s new baccalaureate program in nursing

All new nursing programs in Ontario must receive preliminary approval from CNO’s Council before admitting students. Preliminary approval includes a detailed review of the program’s curriculum. One year after the first cohort of students have graduated, we will comprehensively review these programs. For more information, check out our Program Approval page.


CNO is continuing work to launch a new registration exam for RPN applicants. The new exam, called the Regulatory Exam – Practical Nurse (REx-PN™) will replace the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE), beginning in January 2022. Council learned about the exam’s development, security, relevancy and how we’re engaging important stakeholders, such as the French community, students and educators. You can learn more about the REx-PN™ on our Updating RPN competencies and exam page.

Modernizing practice standards

Council learned and provided feedback about our ongoing work to modernize the practice standards. CNO is currently using the following framework to guide this project:

  • All nurses will enter the profession meeting broad, foundational entry-level competencies

  • The Code of Conduct will remain the overarching practice standard that nurses are expected to uphold

  • The Code would be accompanied by “scope of practice” standards for RPNs, RNs and NPs

In the future, the look and feel of the standards will also change. We’ll make them more accessible and focus on expectations of nurses. We would supplement them with guidance to help nurses understand how to integrate the standards into practice.

Another key part of this project is knowledge translation. We are exploring how we synthesize and disseminate information to support nurses in applying the standards.

Since engagement with nurses is a critical component of this work, we will proceed with broad engagement once the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer putting extreme pressure on nurses and the health care system. We will monitor and proceed depending on how COVID-19 impacts us all in the future.

Fees for registration examinations: By-law amendment

Council amended CNO’s Fees By-Law to streamline the process of collecting exam fees from applicants. Previously, our by-laws allowed us to collect various exam-related fees from applicants and distribute them to the exam provider. Since many of these payments are now being shifted directly to exam vendors, we had to do some housekeeping to update the Fees By-Law to permit exam providers to collect exam fees directly. Thank you to everyone who submitted comments about this proposed change in the March issue of The Standard.

If you’d like to watch Council decisions as they happen, tune in on YouTube when we live stream our next meeting in September. You can also read more about the decisions Council made in the minutes of the meeting, which we will post on our Council page in the coming weeks.

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