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Council greenlights updated education requirements

At a special meeting on May 15, 2024, the College of Nurses of Ontario’s (CNO) Council (or board) approved, for submission to government, proposed changes under the Nursing Act, 1991, to amend the registration requirements related to education that applicants need to practice in Ontario. 

The proposed changes replace the current requirement with new regulations that accepts relevant nursing education recognized or approved in any jurisdiction. This is particularly significant for internationally educated applicants.

To practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) in Ontario, applicants will be required to have a nursing baccalaureate degree. This is the minimum requirement for RNs. To practice as a Registered Practical Nurse, the minimum qualification is a nursing diploma, which also needs to be recognized or approved in any jurisdiction. 

The regulations also introduce a new requirement for applicants to complete a course that supports successful transition into Ontario’s health care system.

“Through our robust data we gain valuable insights that inform our evolving processes,” said Silvie Crawford, RN, CNO’s Registrar/Executive Director and CEO. “The proposed amendments ensure all applicants will experience evidence-informed, fair and inclusive processes to register as a nurse in Ontario.”

To support their decision, Council members considered feedback from two consultations on the draft regulations. “Promoting safe nursing practice involves actively listening to input from individuals across Ontario, and engaging in thoughtful discussions with our system partners,” said Crawford. “These conversations inform our Council’s decisions, always with the public’s best interests in mind.”

Feedback from some respondents noted the changes would help address the ongoing need for more nurses. Some respondents also said these changes enhance public safety and trust by consistently applying the same expectations to applications, regardless of the jurisdiction from which applicants obtain their education.  

The proposed changes are particularly significant for applicants who are educated internationally. Recognizing and including diverse educational backgrounds and qualifications reflects CNO’s adaptability. It also allows CNO to remain responsive to the needs of the health care system and the broader community, by registering nurses from around the world who have the knowledge, skill and judgment to practice safely in Ontario. 

CNO will now submit these regulations to the Ministry of Health for their consideration. Only after Ministry review and government approval will these regulations take effect.

Watch our website for regular updates on the progress of these regulations.

Page last reviewed May 21, 2024