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Code of Conduct FAQs

What changes were made to the code?

The revised Code now reflects:

  • Revised principles to support enhanced organization of statements
  • A new principle focused on providing inclusive culturally safe care by practicing cultural humility
  • Enhanced integration of key concepts throughout the Code (for example, empathy and advocacy)
  • Action-oriented and measurable statements
  • Enhanced alignment with professional misconduct regulation (for example, clarity around acts of professional misconduct such as cooperating with CNO, misappropriation)
  • Embedded links to other practice standards.

What resources are available to support the revised code?

To prepare for the effect date of June 5, 2023, CNO will develop a number of resources to support the revised Code’s application. Please continue to monitor this webpage for future resources.

How is this code different from the canadian nurses association’s (CNA) code of ethics?

CNO’s Code of Conduct (Code) describes the conduct and behaviours expected of Ontario nurses. There are some ethical values that support statements throughout the document. The Code is a provincial document and that means it reflects the legal framework and healthcare climate in Ontario.

How is the code different from other practice standards?

The Code is a practice standard that all nurses are accountable to and is central to other practice standards. It clearly distills information from other practice standards and provides a summary of the expectations nurses in Ontario are accountable to. It is written clearly so it is easily understood by a wide-range of stakeholders.

How does the code align with other practice documents?

The Code is CNO’s central  practice standard. Other standards, such as Therapeutic Nurse-Client Relationship, Revised 2006 and Documentation, Revised 2008, assist in the Code’s application. Practice guidelines, such as Conflict Prevention and Management and Independent Practice, address specific practice-related issues and topic areas. Nurses are expected to guide their practice using the Code with other standards, guidelines and educational tools

My employer has a Code of Conduct. As a nurse, which code am I accountable to? 

You are accountable to both CNO and your employer. You are responsible for ensuring your practice and conduct aligns with standards of practice set out by CNO and your employee accountabilities and expectations.  

If you have questions about your specific role and your employer’s code of conduct, consult with your employer to clarify. If you have questions about CNO’s Code of Conduct, send us your question. 

How did CNO develop the code

CNO developed the Code using such evidence sources:

  • A literature review (for example, literature focused on cultural safety and humility)
  • A review of other regulators’ codes of conduct
  • Feedback from stakeholders
  • An analysis of regulatory data (for example, professional conduct data)
  • A review of other documents, for example the Ontario Human Rights Code and Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report recommendations. 

In addition to the public, we sought feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including:

  • nurses
  • educators
  • nursing employers
  • nursing associations
  • nursing unions
  • vulnerable and underserviced communities
  • health care organizations  

THE CODE STATES THAT “CNO considers the Code in regulatory processes and in reviewing the practice of nurses such as in Quality Assurance and Professional Conduct processes. Nursing practice is considered in its working context and circumstances.” WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

The Code is a practice standard. The Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 requires nurses to adhere to standards in carrying out their professional responsibilities. CNO places these reasonable expectations on nurses to ensure nurses provide responsible, safe and quality patient care. Breaching, contravention or failure to meet these standards is considered professional misconduct. CNO will assess the information considering the context nurses are working as outlined in the Standard of Care and will determine what action should be taken, if any. To learn more about the types of conduct that are defined as professional misconduct, read the Professional Conduct: Professional Misconduct reference document. 


Page last reviewed December 08, 2022