The True North: Nursing Opportunities in CanadaHave you ever thought about nursing outside of your own country? If so, Canada may represent a great opportunity. contributor Sue Heacock RN, MBA, COHN-S provides information on the requirements to work there.

Interesting Facts About Nursing in Canada

  • Canada's health care system has been publicly funded for 40 years.
  • Registration of nurses in Canada is not done on a national level. To practice, you must be licensed or registered in the province or territory you will practice in.
  • Taking the Canadian Registered Nurses Examination (CRNE) is part of the registration/licensure process in all provinces other than Quebec. 

What are the employment prospects in Canada?

  • Like the United States, Canada has a nursing shortage. It is estimated that there will be a shortage of 22,000 to 35,000 nurses over the next 10 years in Canada.
  • Nurses most in demand are those with specialized skills, such as emergency room, critical care, and operating room experience. Canada is also seeking nurses willing to work in smaller or isolated communities.

What languages do I need to speak?

  • Being bilingual in English and French is an asset, but not a requirement in most territories in Canada.
  • Language proficiency is required to become registered or licensed in Canada.
  • Candidates must know the French language to practice in Quebec.
  • Candidates must show proficiency in either English or French in New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Ontario.
  • In other provinces and territories of Canada (not mentioned above), English proficiency is required.

What do I need to do to practice?

  • If you hold a diploma in nursing, individual provinces accept Diploma holders with a minimum of 1165 hours of nursing practice over the past 5 year period. 8 of 10 provinces accept diploma educated nurses. The exceptions are Ontario and New Brunswick; which both require a Bachelor in Nursing Degree.
  • You can work and be considered a "Registered Nurse" on an interim permit. The interim permit is obtained from the nurses association in the particular province you are going to work as a nurse. The interim permit has a condition attached that you will take and pass the CRNE within a specific period of time. 
    This time period, which varies from province to province, is between 4-8 months after arrival to take the exam for the first time. Should you not pass the exam, you have two retake opportunities within a specified time period. Again, this varies from province to province.
  • You must have a work visa to go along with your interim permit.  

When you pass the CRNE, you are fully registered and no longer considered "interim". You must apply directly to individual employers. The Canadian Hospital Association publishes a directory listing addresses for hospitals, health care centers, nursing homes, health associations, and health education programs. The directory may be available through a public library or the Canadian Consulate.

What is my status upon arrival in Canada to work?

  • You and any family members issued visas are considered permanent residents. This status entitles you to all the rights of any other Canadian (except the rights to vote and run for public office).
  • After three years in the country you qualify for your Canadian passport.

What are the costs associated with gaining my Canadian nursing registration?

  • The registration fee for the nursing board is approximately 200 Canadian dollars.
  • The fee for the CRNE Exam is approximately 500 Canadian dollars.

Who do I contact for more information?

  • Contact the Canadian Nurses Association for further information about nursing in Canada.
  • You can also contact the "College of Nursing" in the particular province you wish to practice in to obtain further information.


Information for portions of this article were derived from the following;,, and The Canadian Nurses Association.

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