International Nurses in Ontario

Ontario is a popular province for international nurses that come to Canada looking for a better life. In the last 10 years, more than 25,000 nurses have immigrated to the country, according to Employment and Social Development Canada; and it’s safe to say that a great number of them relocated specifically to Ontario, as the province has around 56% of all nurses across Canada.

It is important to note that Canada is currently going through a nursing shortage due to the fact that many nurses are changing careers and others are retiring. That’s why projections indicate that next year, 2022, the country will need about 60,000 additional nurses to cover the local demand. As a result, international nurses will continue to play a great role in healthcare because they provide what the country and each province need more, which is trained and skilled nursing professionals.

In this article we will discuss how international nurses can practice their profession in Ontario and what are the most effective ways for them to find employment. If you’re an international nurse in Ontario and are looking for job opportunities, this is the article for you.   

How Can International Nurses in Ontario Practice their Profession?    

In Ontario, only members of the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), which is the regulatory body for nursing practice in the province, can become Registered Nurses (RN) or Registered Practical Nurses (RPN). This is because the regulatory organization needs to make sure that all nurses deliver “competent, ethical and professional services, and are accountable to the public”. Also, the CNO “assures the quality of the practice of the profession and the continuing competence of nurses.”

Read More: RPN vs. RN - What are the differences?

In the case of international nurses, also known as internationally educated nurses (IENs), the requirements are a bit more exhaustive, as they need to go through certain processes before obtaining a valid certificate of registration from CNO to be able to practice nursing in Ontario. However, before they do that, they need to pass the Internationally Educated Nurses Competency Assessment Program (IENCAP), which is a standardized evaluation of the knowledge, skill, and judgment for IENs who want to become RNs in the province.

The IENCAP evaluates nursing knowledge, skill, and judgment using a multiple-choice exam, interviews, and an OSCE that takes place in a setting similar to real-life clinical situations in Ontario. Before taking it, the CNO will assess applicants' nursing education, experience, and competencies to determine if their nursing program, additional education, nursing practice is equivalent to the education of an approved Canadian university baccalaureate degree nursing program. If the result is negative, then applicants will have to take the test. If it's positive, then they can move to the next step.

How Can International Nurses Become a RN or PRN in Ontario?

The next step in the process of becoming an RN or RPN in Ontario is meeting the CNO’s registration requirements, such as Permanent Residency or authorization to work in Canada; completion of a nursing program that is equivalent to an Ontario 4-year bachelor’s degree in nursing or a practical nursing diploma; evidence of nursing practice within the 3 years prior to application for a Certificate of Registration at the CNO; completion of the NCLEX-RN or the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Exam (CPNRE), depending on the case; and completion of the RN or RPN Jurisprudence Examination.

On top of that, international nurses need to provide evidence of language proficiency in either English or French, meet College requirements related to health and conduct, and report past offenses, findings, and other matters. These requirements seem difficult, but once international nurses complete each one of them, they will be approved for a license to practice nursing and will be able to work in any organization within the province, so the efforts are worth it.

Job Opportunities for International Nurses in Ontario

International nurses in Ontario have many job opportunities, whether they have completed the process to become RNs or not. The province has multiple facilities where they can put their skills to work in favour of patients, such as long-term care residents, hospital patients, children, people with disabilities in their own homes, and more.

For nurses who have not yet completed the registration process to join the CNO, a great alternative is working as a Developmental Service Worker (DSW), an occupation that focuses on supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities. This role could be a good match for them because many of the things that DSWs do are similar to what nurses do in long-term care and other settings.

Another option for international nurses is becoming a personal support worker (PSW), as we explain in this other article. The roles would allow them to work in the healthcare field supporting nurses and sometimes even doctors, have direct contact with patients, learn about Canadian healthcare, and gain work experience to keep developing their careers.


The main benefit of working as a DSW or a PSW for international nurses in Ontario is not having to go through the process of getting the certification to practice nursing in the province, pass the tests and meet the requirements. They simply have to complete a relatively short DSW program or PSW course (there are cases where this isn't even necessary) and then get out there and start looking for jobs. One great way to do this is by joining our platform.

The Caring Support platform is perhaps the best source of employment opportunities for international nurses in Ontario right now, as it is a space where they can find DSW jobs or PSW jobs, and many others, as well as connect with employers, and stay up-to-date with everything that's happening in the field.

Plus, when you fill out your profile you have the option to indicate more than one language (English + French, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, etc.) which will increase the chances of employers contacting you since they are constantly looking for caregivers who can communicate with patients from multiple nationalities.

To join our platform, visit this page and follow the steps. It’s very easy to do.

And with that, we finish this article. If you have any other questions regarding this topic, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comment section below or by contacting us directly.

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