What is it like to Live and Work as a Nurse in Canada?

In a recent poll conducted by Endorse Jobs, we found that Canada was the most desirable place to migrate as a healthcare professional. In this blog we will visit why Canada has this appeal and what the process to live and work in Canada as a Registered Nurse.  As the demand for nurses continues to grow with over 50,000 vacancies across Canada, nurses are presented with the opportunity to seek either permanent or temporary residency in Canada.



Why Canada?

According to some polls, Canada is ranked as having the best Standards of Living in the world. It is important to know about the reasons why Canada is on top of the charts when it comes to settling as a nurse. The country has a vast scope for nursing for both nursing students and aspiring nursing professionals. Whether you want to study nursing programs in Canada or even plan to settle as a registered nurse in Canada, there is a vast scope of opportunities waiting for you. Also, the ever increasing demand for healthcare professionals, makes nursing a highly valued career option.


In Canada, once you start working as a registered nurse, there is a high possibility to tap permanent residency options which is an advantage not many of the developed nations provide easily. The country is immigrant friendly as about 20% of the population in Canada comprises of multi-cultural people, coming from different walks of life. In terms of scope of growth on a professional front, the immigrants with a history in healthcare are given a priority over other categories of skilled foreign workers, which makes it all the more in the positive light for aspiring nurses. However, one must not forget that one of the strong driving forces which bring you to Canada is the better life quality and better rewards from what you earn in your native land. In terms of talent recognition too, Canada stands to be a preference for the foreign workers.

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As the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is predicting a continued shortage of nurses in the future, nursing jobs in the country are more plentiful than ever. Internationally educated nurses may apply to work temporarily in Canada. Temporary residency for foreign trained nurses may be achieved if the applicant secures a valid job offer and subsequently, a work permit.


To begin this process, an applicant with a nursing degree from outside Canada must have their educational credentials assessed. Since educational credentials can be assessed from both inside and outside Canada, applicants are given the option to remain in their country of residence during the assessment process.


After educational credentials have been assessed, applicants must register as a nurse in Canada. When this has been completed, an applicant may initiate the process of obtaining a job offer and work permit in Canada. To facilitate the process of finding a job offer, some individual provinces have implemented services helping connect internationally educated nurses to employment opportunities in healthcare communities.

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How to Register as a Nurse in Canada

Any nurse planning to work in Canada must be deemed as qualified to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed/Registered Practical Nurse (LPN/RPN). To qualify, an applicant must register with either the Canadian Nurses Association (CAN) or the Canadian Council for Practical Nurse Regulators (CCPNR).


In Canada registration requirements are established by individual provinces and territories. To register with the CNA or CCPNR, nurses must first apply to the nursing regulatory body of the province or territory where they wish to work:


British Columbia











Northwest Territories & Nunavut


Nova Scotia


Prince Edward Island

Newfoundland & Labrador

New Brunswick


Work In Canada

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In general, in order to be eligible to register as an RN or LPN, you will need to demonstrate competency to practice. To demonstrate this, you will need to have their education credentials assessed. Once education credentials are deemed equivalent to nursing education programs in Canada, the nursing regulatory body will then address whether other application requirements are met. Additional application requirements generally include criteria such as work experience, good character, language proficiency, screening for criminal history and registration in the jurisdiction where the applicant currently practices.


Once a positive assessment of the application requirements has been met, Canadian provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec, require that nurses write the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE) or Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Exam (CPNRE) as part of the registration or license process (the province of Quebec maintains its own registration examination). At present, these exams can only be written in Canada. Once an applicant has successfully completed the required examination, the applicant may be eligible to work as a nurse in Canada.


There is currently a high demand for nurses throughout Canada. A recent immigration change has again made it possible for nurses to immigrate to Canada without a job offer. Canada’s Province of Quebec announced important changes to its popular Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program, which results in a Canadian Permanent Residency Visa. Under the revised QSW program, nurses will receive even more points than previously for their education/area of training.


If you are a nurse, now is the time to seize the opportunity and apply for immigration to Canada. Nurses in Canada have a bright future with a welcoming job market, high salaries and of course an exceptional quality of life.

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Nursing in Canada

Canada is home to rapidly expanding healthcare services. Canada has taken measures to ensure that it continues to grow its nurse population. Recently Canada has reworked its points system in a way that favours nurses. Nursing professionals may now earn 16 points towards their overall point requirement, up from 12 points before. This represents the highest possible amount of points that can be awarded for any area of training/field of study.


This increase in points is significant. Canada usually places a high emphasis on English or French language skills for individuals looking to immigrate. However, many nursing applicants will not necessarily need to learn French in order to receive enough points to immigrate, thanks to the amount of points they will receive for their professional background. Click here for further information regarding the language requirements to work in Canada.


The Canadian Nurses Associations predicts that a staggering 60,000 nurses will be needed by 2022 in order to fill labour shortages. Nurses are highly sought after throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas.



To facilitate a better decision making ability, it is important to know the benefits of being a registered nurse in Canada. Undoubtedly, nursing is a profession which pays you brilliantly well in foreign lands but one must understand and adapt to the benefits other than the financial stability. Choosing the global path of nursing as a registered nurse in Canada can be fulfilling in terms of job security and flexible schedules. Yes, flexible schedules serve to be an advantage when in Canada because no matter what, the work rush will always be a part of the healthcare professional’s lives but the facility to manage it all in the most balanced way is something which only a nurse can get to do in a developed country like Canada. Mentioned below are a few of the many perks, being a registered nurse in Canada brings along:


Competitive remuneration

First and foremost benefit of working as a registered nurse in Canada is that you get to earn an average salary of $65,000 CD annually which is comparatively higher than what is being offered in developing nations. The high paying scales for RNs make their job equally respectable as that of a doctor or any other high rank healthcare professional. However, according to the Ontario Nurse’s Association, a career nurse in the province can make over $80,000 CD. Nurses who go on to management positions in their field may top even this, with payscale.com showing clinical nursing manager salaries in Canada at over $120,000 CD.


Flexible schedules

Working as an international nurse can also offer sufficient day offs which get compensated against the each extra hour that you work. Also, the real advantage kicks in with the fact that these 13-15 days annual offs are paid and don’t take you on a guilt trip. Yet again, striking a comparison, it is difficult to imagine such a scenario in the developing nations where scarcity of nurses is no less than a crisis and it makes them work overtime without any competitive benefit being granted.


Health insurance is covered

Being a healthcare provider yourself, you get an access to comprehensive health insurance plans which cover you and your family members.


Assistance in Child Care

Being a registered nurse in Canada also provides a much needed facility for all the working parents who need help in being available for their kids. To ensure full attention being given to the kids of nurses working at odd hours, many hospitals and institutions provide the facility of child care where the kids can be taken well care of, as and when required.


Tax saving becomes a reality

Being a registered nurse can also bring along friendly tax saving plans which help you to contribute a part of your salary to savings account. Say, there are hospitals which match 100% of 3% of your salary. In easy words, if you are making an annual remuneration of $100,000 and contributing $3,000, the hospital will match it and turn it into $6,000.


Landscape Sunset View Of Morain Lake And Mountain Range, Alberta, Canada

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Working Conditions

It is important to lay stress on the environment of working before you make a final call about choosing to work at a particular place, in a region or a foreign country for that matter. Understanding the nature and style of working is important as it casts a path for improvement and future growth. Nurses should make sure to be in a mentally healthy environment as it helps them to perform their roles better. It is also important to keep a check on the working conditions so that there is no negative impact on the health of nurses which could further affect the quality of patient care being provided.

Considering the widespread health care system in Canada, it is noteworthy that nurses in the country are comparatively in a better working environment as compared to nurses working in developing nations. Registered nurses in Canada are valued for their efforts and energy. They are given the liberty to make a decision in the best interest of their patient and also it is important to note that the profession of nursing is counted to be an important addition to the pool of highly preferred professions in the country.

Stethoscope And Canadian Flag Concept Based On The Canadian Healthcare System.

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Immigration Programmes

A registered nurse or licensed practical nurse seeking permanent residency in Canada; it is important to note that different provinces of Canada have various options and processes. For example the province of Quebec has a Skilled Worker (QSW) immigration program, which is an immigration policy that reflects its high demand for nurses. With high salaries, available jobs and a rapidly expanding healthcare system, Quebec seeks to bring the best international nursing professionals to its cities and towns. The QSW program, the province’s most popular program for permanent residency, has been set up in a way that benefits qualified nurses.


The QSW program is a points-based selection system and points are awarded for various factors which include age, education, area of training, work experience, language ability etc. If an applicant scores enough points to reach the pass-mark, he or she will generally qualify for a Quebec Selection Certificate, which ultimately leads to a Canadian permanent resident visa, in the absence of health and/or security issues.


The QSW selection criteria awards a significant number of points for French language ability. However, under this program many nurses are able to score enough points to reach the pass mark without obtaining any points for French language ability. This is because nurses are able to earn very high points for the “area of training” selection factor as well as high points for their education.


Another programme is the Federal Skilled Worker Programme. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has just announced exciting changes to the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program. These highly anticipated changes may allow a larger number of healthcare professional applicants, from larger pool of occupations, to successfully apply for Canadian Permanent Residency through the FSW program without needing a Canadian job offer.

Toronto Skyline With Purple Light Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Frequently Asked Questions about Working in Canada as a Nurse

The following information responds to many of the most common inquiries from internationally educated nurses who are investigating the possibility of working as a registered nurse in Canada. The answers provided also contain links to additional resources.


What are the employment prospects in Canada?

Nursing employment is growing after several years of health-care restructuring and hospital downsizing. RNs with skills and experience in specialty areas (e.g., emergency, critical care and operating room) and those willing to work in smaller or isolated communities are in the most demand. CNA is predicting a continued shortage of nurses for the future.


Where can I obtain further information about becoming licensed to practise nursing in Canada?

Unlike many other countries, the registration of nurses does not occur at the national level. RNs are licensed in the province or territory in which they work. You can request a prior learning assessment and application forms from any provincial or territorial regulatory body.


As an internationally educated nurse, how do I begin the process of becoming an RN in Canada?

The National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) is a Canada-wide body that provides an initial assessment for internationally educated nurses (IENs) who would like to practise in Canada.

You can begin the process of applying hereThe NNAS handbook for applications is a great resource that will help answer any questions you may have.


Will I need to write an examination to become licensed to practise in Canada?

Canadian provinces and territories require that you write an exam as part of the registration or licensure process. Starting in 2015, provincial and territorial nursing regulators (outside Quebec) have been using the NCLEX-RN exam from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) as Canada’s entry-to-practice exam. For more information, please contact your provincial or territorial regulatory body and NCSBN. Quebec nurses will continue to use their own exam. For further information, please contact the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec.


What languages do I need to know to become an RN in Canada?

Varied language proficiencies are required to become an RN in Canada. Bilingualism (French and English) is an asset. Candidates must have knowledge of French to practise in Quebec. Employment and nursing education programs for French speaking nurses are available in Quebec and in certain areas of New Brunswick, Manitoba and Ontario. The other provinces and territories require proficiency in English.


Can I practise midwifery?

Midwifery is a recognized profession in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. For further information, please refer to the Canadian Association of Midwives.


Do you already live and work in Canada, tell us your story….


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