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Registered (or licensed) practical nurses driving nursing growth

The regulated nursing workforce in Canada has grown by 8.5% cent in the last five years, but the number of licensed (or, in Ontario, registered) practical nurses has increased at three times the rate of registered nurses.

There were 348,499 regulated nurses working in nursing in Canada in 2009, 76.4% of whom were RNs (that's 266,341), 22.1% of whom were LPNs and 1.5% of whom were Registered Psychiatric Nurses.

The Canadian LPN (or, in Ontario, RPN) workforce grew to 76,944 in 2009, an increase of  18.5% since 2005.

 Between 2005 and 2010, the number of RPNs employed full time in Ontario increased from 13,448 to 16, 873, a 25.5% increase.  The number of RPNs employed part-time increased from 8,748 to 9,577, an increase of 9.5%.  Another 2,357 were employed on a casual basis in 2009, but this was only a 4% increase from 2005. 

The average age of a Canadian LPN was 43.4 in 2009, a decrease of nearly one year, from 44.3, in 2005. This is the only nursing profession that showed a decrease in average age over the time period studied.

LPNs (RPNs) worked mostly in hospitals (45.6%) and in long-term care facilities (39.1%) in 2009.  In Ontartio, 46.4% work in hospitals, 36.4% work in long term care, and 11.2% work in community health care.

The new information on the nursing workforce is contained in a publication this past week from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.  The report is at


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