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CNO’s new Language Proficiency Policy takes effect

Applicants registering to practice nursing in Ontario now have better options to demonstrate language proficiency under the College of Nurses of Ontario’s (CNO’s) new Language Proficiency Policy.

As of March 7, 2022, applicants can demonstrate language proficiency, in English or French, through education, formal testing or practice experience in a health care related setting in Canada. Applicants can also demonstrate language proficiency if they hold or previously held a certificate of registration with a nursing regulatory body in Canada. Learn more on our Proficiency in English or French page.

“It’s critically important for nurses to have the language skills to provide safe patient care,” says Carol Timmings, Chief Quality Officer at CNO. “The new policy improves efficiencies in assessing language proficiency and ensures public protection by focusing on evidence that specifically demonstrates an applicant’s ability to communicate within a health care environment.”

Language proficiency is one of eight registration requirements applicants must meet to become a nurse in Ontario. All applicants, including those reinstating their registration in the profession, must meet this requirement.

Updating the language proficiency requirement is one of several ways CNO is modernizing its applicant assessment process. “Changes to language proficiency modernizes the applicant process and streamlines outcomes for applicants, keeping the process fair and inclusive for them, while also keeping patient safety at the forefront,” Timmings adds.

In addition to updating the language proficiency policy, CNO recently launched the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership program  a new opportunity for applicants to demonstrate evidence of practice.

For ongoing updates on CNO’s modernization efforts, visit CNO’s trending topic on Modernizing Applicant Assessments.




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Page last reviewed March 07, 2022