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CNO launches first-ever Workforce Census

A first-of-its-kind census aims to give Ontario’s health system the data it needs to address diversity, equity and inclusion issues nurses face, and focus on areas requiring attention.

Between Tuesday, Feb. 13 and Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, CNO sent the Workforce Census to approximately 200,000 nurses in the province. If you didn’t receive a link, please email workforcecensus@cnomail.org

The data nurses provide will help CNO better understand the composition and experiences of nurses in Ontario.

"The census is an opportunity for registered Ontario nurses to share their experience within the health care system,” said Brent Knowles, Director of Analytics and Planning. “It will also provide us with a baseline to track progress toward advancing more equitable and inclusive policies.”

One section of the census asks questions about nurses’ individual identities. CNO knows nurses have different experiences at work and with their regulator based on their identities. The data we collect will provide us with insights into how individual identity shapes experience.

The census offers nurses a variety of ways to self-identify. As well, we do not ask respondents to provide their name or registration number and their responses cannot be linked to them. “CNO is using the highest standards of confidentiality and privacy to conduct the Workforce Census,” added Knowles.

Other parts of the census focus on nursing practice and employment, and nurses’ experiences in the nursing system and with CNO.

“Results from the census will inform CNO’s equity activities and allows us to see where things are going well and where improvements could be made,” said Sandra Porteous, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CNO. “Developing the Workforce Census is also an opportunity for CNO to learn whether an issue is isolated or systemic.” 

Census developed with community partners

To create the census, CNO collaborated with valuable partners. We developed the questions with community leaders and experts in diversity, equity and inclusion who specialize in collecting data in health systems.

CNO would like to thank the Black Nurses Task Force, Canadian Black Nurses Alliance, Pan-Canadian Association of Nurses of African Descent (Ontario Black Nurses Network and Canadian Black Nurses Network) and the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council for their support.

“It was very exciting for me to participate in developing the survey since I know it needs to be done,” said Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite, RN, MN, PhD, Co-Chair of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s (RNAO's) Black Nurses Task Force and Past-President of RNAO. “There is a great need for this kind of data to make changes to address racism, exclusion and lack of support in the system.”

CNO will use the results from the census to inform its diversity, equity and inclusion activities in the future. “The data will provide CNO and our system partners, including decision-makers in the health care system, with the information needed to improve nurses’ experience and patient safety,” explained Porteous.

“CNO taking this step is an example for other organizations,” added Cooper Brathwaite, who is also a Member of the Order of Canada, recipient of the Order of Ontario and Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. “I am encouraged that CNO is collecting this information and sharing it with other organizations. Having this data will support changes and make a difference.”

The Workforce Census closes on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. For more information, visit www.cno.org/census.

Page last reviewed March 07, 2024