Top 5 Provinces to Find Work in Canada as a Nurse

August 17, 2023


  • Shireen Fisher

Nursing is a profession that is in demand across the globe. It is no different in the land of maple leaves. The country is currently facing an ongoing shortage of nurses. Among the reasons for this talent drain is the country's aging population. Many nurses and a massive chunk of the Canadian population are retiring. This means that apart from many vacancies open due to the retirement of nursing staff, more older people require care. With many positions waiting to be filled across the country, check out the top 5 provinces to find work in Canada as a nurse.

Does Canada Need Nurses?

Nurses are Canada's largest group of healthcare workers. According to the Canadian government, over 400,000 people are working in this occupation in Canada. With so many already in the Canadian health care system, you may wonder, "Does Canada need more?" Well, the answer is yes, it does.

Canada's healthcare system has, over the last few years, experienced many challenges. A government report acknowledged that due to these challenges, its healthcare workforce had seen high levels of burnout, absenteeism, and increased staff turnover. Adding to the healthcare talent shortage is the country's increasing retiring population. A new generation of nurses is required to plug the labor holes. But then there's also the country's low birth rate. The solution? The immigration of Skilled foreigners!

What is the Canadian Government Doing to Bridge These Labor Gaps?

In a bid to work through this significant talent drain, the government of Canada's Budget 2023 revealed that it had made 2.4 million CAD available to the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) to support the implementation and evaluation of a National Nurse Residency Program.

Additionally, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is helping provincial and territorial governments and key health stakeholders find short- and long-term solutions to nursing and other healthcare staff shortages. Around 115 million CAD will be provided over five years. Thirty million CAD will be allocated to expanding Canada's Foreign Credential Recognition Program. The program will:

  • Assist as many as 11,000 internationally trained healthcare professionals in securing recognition of their credentials.
  • Help them find employment in Canada find work in their field
  • Provide support for projects that remove obstacles from healthcare workers having their credentials recognized to access nurse jobs in Canada.

Provinces Where Nurses Are Most in Demand


One of the main factors causing a demand for nurses in Alberta is the population and its proportion of residents aged 65 and older, which is set to increase as the years go by. So if you want to move to Canada and settle in this province as a nurse, you will find employment.

With many internationally educated nurses wanting to settle here, the province's Minister of Education, Demetrios Nicolaides, announced earlier this year that 15 million CAD had been made available to train and support more internationally educated nurses. The funds will help bring your nursing skills up to provincial standards and alleviate the financial pressure newcomers often face when settling in a new province.

British Columbia

British Columbia employs around 47,050 nurses. Job Bank says employment prospects remain "very good" for Registered nurses and psychiatric nurses in British Columbia. Factors that contribute to this projection include:

  • Employment growth which will result in new vacancies
  • Retirement
  • Greater demand for healthcare as the aging population in the province increases

As the need for nurses increases, the province continues its commitment to making it easier for nurses with qualifications obtained outside of Canada to work here. Solutions include financial support and a speedier assessment pathway.

If you'd like to work in Canada, with British Columbia as your province of choice, you will be happy to learn that nursing is one of the healthcare occupations prioritized by the province's BC PNP's Health Authority stream. This has been done to increase support for the BC care economy.


Ontario has the highest demand for nurses in Canada. According to the Ontario Nurses Association, the province needs around 22,000 registered nurses - if not more. The demand for nurses is increasing in all healthcare facilities, including private home care, small clinics, and hospitals.

Ontario has filled the nurse occupation gap through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program's (OINP) Human Capital Priorities Stream. The most recent draw for health occupations saw candidates being invited if they scored 46 and above and a job offer in one of the national occupational codes (NOC) on the list, which included registered nurses.


If you would love to settle in Saskatchewan and find a job as a nurse, your prospects, according to Job Bank, look very good. And because the demand for this occupation is so high, the Government of Saskatchewan assists nurses who have received training abroad with accessing employment within the province's healthcare sector much faster.

Regarding Saskatchewan immigration options for nurses, you will find an ideal pathway in the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program's (SINP) International Skilled Worker: Employment Offer category. This sub-category is for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), Psychiatric Nurses, or Registered Nurses (RN) wishing to obtain Canadian permanent residency. You must:

  • Have the required credentials to be able to be employed here.
  • Meet the nomination requirements for the SINP


Like most Canadian provinces, Quebec is also grappling with an ongoing skills shortage regarding nurses. Reports show that to help solve this issue, the province's Labour and Immigration Minister, Jean Boulet, announced last year that it would welcome 1,000 foreign nurses to bridge the gap. The department confirmed an investment of 65 million CAD that would be used over two years to hire the much-needed nursing staff.

Since Quebec is not a PNP participant, as a nurse, you can apply for Canadian Permanent residency via the province's Regular Skilled Worker Program and the Quebec Experience Program. You should note that you must be proficient in French to live and work in this province.

The Top Earning Nurse Occupations in Canada?

Because nurses are in demand in Canada, you will find that you can easily find a well-paying job here. To get an idea of what you can earn as a nurse in the Great White North, look at the highest-paying jobs here, according to

Highest Paying Nursing Jobs in Canada
Occupation Average Salary Per Year
Nurse Anesthetist 83,733 CAD
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner 122,675 CAD
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner 81,715 CAD
Oncology Nurse Practitioner 81,715 CAD
Cardiac Nurse Practitioner 81,715 CAD
Pain Management Nurse 83,310 CAD
Gerontological Nurse Practitioner 93,512 CAD
Family Nurse Practitioner 118,862 CAD
Pediatric Nurse 122,250 CAD
General Nurse Practitioner 103,976 CAD

The Best Pathways to Canada For Nurses

There are several immigration programs that you can apply through to move to Canada as a nurse. Here are two of the most popular ones.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows 11 of Canada's 13 provinces and territories to nominate foreign nationals to work and move to a particular region. Immigrants are nominated based on the economic and labor needs of the province, which is why it is essential to apply to a province where nurses are in demand. You can apply via two options; directly to the province of your choice or via Express Entry.

Several streams under each PNP are geared towards specific needs. For example, Nova Scotia's Nova Scotia Nominee Program: Skilled Worker Stream assists employers with recruiting foreign workers and recently graduated international students who can fill some of the gaps in the province.

Express Entry

Express Entry is an online immigration system that manages three federal economic programs. This is a great pathway for skilled professionals to move to Canada. Applications take just six months to process, and as a nurse, you stand a good chance of application success as an in-demand worker.

You can apply to the Federal Skilled Worker Program as a skilled professional. To start your application, you must submit your profile online. You will then be ranked in the Express Entry pool using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). To score an Invitation to Apply, you must have a CRS score above the cut-off. Find out how you can increase your CRS score.


What Skills Are Required to Work as a Nurse in Canada?

You need the following:

  • Completion of a university, college, or other approved registered nursing program
  • Additional academic training or experience to specialize in a specific area of nursing;
  • A master's or doctoral degree in nursing is usually required for clinical nurse specialists, clinical nurses, nursing consultants, and nursing researchers;
  • Registration with a regulatory body is required in all provinces and territories;
  • Registered psychiatric nurses - Completion of a university or college registered psychiatric nursing program is required;
  • Registration with a regulatory body is required in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon.

How Many Hours Do Nurses Work in Canada?

Nurses in Canada generally work 8 to 12-hour shifts - usually on rotation. This includes weekends, evenings, and holidays. On average, full-time nurses work 36 to 40 hours per week. Please note that part-time nurses are pretty common in Canada as well.