Registered Practical Nurses--Major increases

A report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that the Licensed Practical Nurse (or Registered Practical Nurse) workforce has grown rapidly since 2006 -- and much faster than the population.

The trend has been especially marked in Ontario. Between 2006 and 2010, 5,061 new RPN positions were created in Ontario, increasing RPN numbers from 25,084 to 30,423.  That is a 21.3% increase.

The number of RPNs  per capita also increased from 198 (per 100,000 population) to 230 (per 100,000), a 16.2% increase.  Canada-wide the increase was 15%.

There is a wide discrepancy in the number of LPNs (RPNs) per capita from province to province. Ontario is close to the country-wide average (230 RPNs per 1000,000 population in 2010, compared to 238 country-wide). But in Newfoundland, the ratio is 489 per 100,000, while in BC it is 182 per 100,000 (the number declines pretty much as you move from east to west).

In Ontario, full time RPN employment increased most rapidly (28.1% between 2006-2010), while part-time and casual RPN employment increased more slowly (12.2% and 15.8% respectively). Similar increases in those categories were seen Canada-wide as well.   By 2010, 58% of the RPN workforce was employed full time in Ontario (Canada-wide the figure was a little lower -- 49.6%).

The profession remains dominated by women, who comprise over 90% of the RPN workforce.  But men are becoming a somewhat bigger part of the RPN workforce in Ontario, increasing  from 5.9% to 6.6% (and from 7% to 7.5% Canada-wide).

Almost half of the RPN workforce in Ontario work in hospitals (44.9% in 2010) with 37.5% working in long term care facilities.  Similar numbers apply country-wide.  Employment in community care is much smaller (11.5% in Ontario), but that sector is seeing the most rapid growth by far (50.4% growth between 2006-10, versus 19.4% in hospitals, and 31.5% in LTC).

Registered Nurses (RNs) remain the largest nursing category in Canada.  But growth has been slower, with the RN workforce growing 5.7% in Ontario between 2006-2010 and 5.8% across Canada.  In Ontario, growth has been concentrated in hospitals (8.6% growth) and community care (11.9%).  There was a small reduction in RNs in LTC.   Notably, compared with RPNs, more RNs are employed full time (65.8% in Ontario, 58% Canada-wide).

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