May 31, 2016 — The number of regulated nurses entering the profession in 2015 was the highest since 2002, according to Regulated Nurses, 2015, released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

In 2015, there was an inflow of 30,897 regulated nurses into the profession and an outflow of 22,534. This resulted in a net gain of 8,363 regulated nurses, following a net loss of 2,360 in 2014.

“The gain in the regulated nursing supply may be partially attributed to growth in the number of graduates from entry-to-practice nursing programs in Canada in recent years,” says Andrea Porter, manager of Health Workforce Information at CIHI. “Given the impact regulated nurses have on health care delivery, it is important to monitor and understand the factors that influence the regulated nursing supply.”

Regulated nurses are

  • Registered nurses (RNs), including nurse practitioners (NPs);
  • Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also called registered practical nurses in Ontario; and
  • Registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs).

Nursing supply up more than 18% over past decade

Between 2006 and 2015, the supply of regulated nurses grew by 18.5% — from 351,048 in 2006 to 415,864 in 2015. Over this period, the supply of LPNs grew by more than 50%, while that of RNs/NPs and RPNs grew by roughly 10%.

In 2015, the regulated nursing workforce reached 390,359, or 94% of the total supply of all regulated nurses. The proportion of regulated nurses who were employed varied somewhat across the nursing professions: 96% of RNs, 94% of NPs, 89% of LPNs and 95% of RPNs.

Regulated nurse supply declines in rural areas

The proportion of regulated nurses working in rural and remote areas of the provinces declined more than the population of these areas.

Between 2006 and 2015, the proportion of regulated nurses working in rural and remote areas declined in the provinces from 14.0% to 11.7%. For the same period, the proportion of Canadians living in a rural or remote area of the provinces declined from 18.6% to 17.3%.