Nursing in Ontario

Nurses are needed more than ever in Ontario. The biggest population cohort, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), is aging. Their health care needs in the home and the community are rapidly expanding. Plus there is greater value being placed on illness prevention in society. Currently, the province’s ratio of 72 nurses to every 100,000 people lags behind the nation’s average (83 to every 100,000).

The good news is that a career in nursing in this diverse, exciting province has never looked brighter.

Ontario’s Nursing Strategy

The Nursing Strategy is a Government of Ontario initiative that tackles instability in the nursing workforce on a number of fronts, including full employment of nurses. Specifically, the government is committed to moving towards having 70 per cent of Ontario’s nurses employed full-time. In that vein, the government funds a number of nursing employment tools, from the Best Practice Guidelines by the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario to the Nursing Graduate Guarantee. Read more about these at Health Force Ontario's Government Funding for Nursing Employment and Tools.

Thanks to the Nursing Graduate Gaurantee, an Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care strategy, all new Ontario nursing graduates (RN and RPN) are gauranteed to work for a minimum of 12 weeks. Read more about the Nursing Graduate Guarantee.

The Ontario government has quite a few nursing education funding opportunities, too. Check
them out at Health Force Ontario's Government Funding for Nursing Education. Learn more about nursing education opportunities at Becoming a Nurse.

What is Ontario’s Nursing Secretariat?

The Secretariat is part of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and its role is to provide strategic advice on health and public policy issues from a nursing perspective. The formation of the Secretariat is recognition of the important role nurses play in health care delivery. It was created in 2000, and it has spearheaded a number of strategies to promote nursing including the Nursing Education Initiative. The NEI provides grant support for the continuing education and professional development of nurses. This tuition reimbursement program is administered by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) and the Registered Practical Nurses' Association of Ontario (RPNAO). Learn more at:

Ontario’s exciting nursing opportunities

One in three Canadians call Ontario home, and given its fabulous geography, diverse population and industry hub, it’s little wonder. Ontario offers tremendous career opportunities for nurses in a world-class health system.

If you already live and work here, maybe you’re ready for a change. Bust out of the big city and try a wide-open lakeside lifestyle or spread your wings in the majestic north.

If you are thinking about moving to Ontario, there are many different options. Read about nursing experiences working in different parts of Ontario.

We’ve all contemplated a country life: here’s insight into the lifestyle and why Ontario needs more rural nurses. “The nurse next door.”

Discover what it’s like to be a nurse (by helicopter) for the people north of Sioux Lookout. “Ups and Downs of Diabetes.”

Ever want to be a nurse on wheels? Read how two nurses travel more than 6,000 kilometers through Ontario’s north to deliver mobile eye care to those who need it the most. “A sight for sore eyes.”

Why Ontario lures back nurses who went south of the border. “Homeward Bound."

Learn more about nursing in Ontario:

Ontario’s nursing support system

Nurses who practise in Ontario enjoy a strong professional and peer support network through the following organizations.

Ontario Nurses’ Association The ONA is Ontario’s nursing union. It represents 55,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, and more than 12,000 nursing students providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry. Learn more at

Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario RNAO is the professional association representing over 29,000 registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. Learn more at

College of Nurses of Ontario CNO is the governing body for the 145,000 registered nurses (RNs) and registered practical nurses (RPNs) in Ontario. The College sets requirements to enter the profession, establishes and enforces standards of nursing practice, and assures the quality of practice of the profession and the continuing competence of nurses. Learn more at

Living in Ontario

Discover everything you need to know about moving to Ontario from its natural wonders to what the weather is like at Health Force Ontario's Ontario 101 page.

From lakeside living to the bustle of the big city, there’s a lifestyle for everyone in Ontario. Take this quiz at Health Force Ontario to find what is right for you.

Moving to Ontario? You’ll find helpful tips at these web sites:

  • Nursing Grad Numbers

    In 2009 alone, 2,910 students graduated from Ontario's nursing degree programs, up from just 1,647 graduates in 2005.

  • Most Nurses have full-time employment

    Did you know that in 2000, only half of all Ontario RNs were working full-time? Now, thanks to a political initiative by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) advocating for 70 percent full-time employment, the province is almost there. Close to 65 percent of RN currently have full-time employment!

    The 70 percent for full-time employment is just one of the recommendations in RNAO's Creating Vibrant Communities: RNAO's Challenge to Ontario's Political Parties.

  • Northern nurses love their jobs!

    Nurses working in northern areas of Canada report higher job satisfaction scores than nurses working in other areas, likely due to more work autonomy!
    Source: Canadian Nursing Association, Building the Future: An integrated strategy for nursing human resources in Canada (PDF).