Supply of nurses in Canada declines for first time in 2 decades

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June 23, 2015 — For the first time in 2 decades, more regulated nurses left their profession than entered it, according to a recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Fewer of these professionals — which include registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) — applied for registration, while more chose not to renew their registration due to factors such as retirement, a new career path or a move outside Canada.

Regulated Nurses, 2014 reveals that while growth in the regulated nursing workforce (those working in the profession) has remained stable over the last 10 years, the supply of regulated nurses (the broader group of nurses who are eligible to work) dropped 0.3% in 2014 from the previous year. Specifically, the supply of RNs declined 1.0%, mitigating reduced growth among LPNs and RPNs.

"Last year, we saw a shift in the supply of regulated nurses for the first time in 20 years, with more nurses leaving the profession than entering it," said Andrea Porter-Chapman, CIHI's manager of Health Workforce Information. "It will be important to monitor this trend and to understand what factors are affecting the supply of nurses going forward."

In 2014, a total of 25,397 regulated nurses registered in a province or territory where they did not register the year before. This fell short of the 27,757 regulated nurses who allowed their provincial or territorial registration to lapse at the end of 2013, resulting in a net loss of 2,360 regulated nurses.

The total supply of nurses in Canada was 406,817 in 2014. This consisted of 293,205 RNs (including 3,966 nurse practitioners), 107,923 LPNs and 5,689 RPNs

Why did the nursing supply go down?

Several factors influenced the reduced supply of regulated nurses in 2014. The number of graduates from Canadian regulated nursing programs slowed, fewer regulated nurses applied for registration and more chose not to renew their registration, due to retirement, leaving the profession or migrating outside of Canada.

6 jurisdictions (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia, Northwest Territories/Nunavut) faced a decline in the supply of nurses in 2014. In Ontario, a Declaration of Practice requirement was introduced in the regulations, contributing to the loss of 15,836 regulated nurses.

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