Nursing Issues: Key Groups Within the Nursing Sector

Office of Nursing Policy
Health Canada
November 2006
ISBN: 978-0-662-44711-5 (PDF Version)
Cat. No.: H21-281/2-2006E

* Note: this list is not expected to be all-inclusive of the many nursing organizations at the national level but has instead been complied to give the reader some idea of the various organizations that speak for different constituencies within nursing at the national level. The organizations are presented in alphabetical order.


This fact sheet outlines the mission, membership, objectives and activities of the following national key groups within the nursing sector:

  • the Academy of Canadian Executive Nurses (ACEN);
  • the Canadian Association for Nursing Research (CANR);
  • the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN);
  • the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU);
  • the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA);
  • the Canadian Nurses Foundation (CNF);
  • the Canadian Practical Nurses Association (CPNA); and,
  • the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada (RPNC).*

Academy of Canadian Executive Nurses (ACEN)

The mission of the Academy of Canadian Executive Nurses is to provide a national

voice for executive nursing leaders within academic health care environments and university nursing faculties to contribute to the health of Canadians and the advancement of nursing. The membership of ACEN is composed of Registered Nurses in leadership positions who are accountable for strategic, operational and educational outcomes, as well as Registered Nurses with senior responsibility for nursing practice.

The objectives of ACEN are as follows:

  • to influence and participate in setting the directions for health care policy and dialogue in Canada;
  • to contribute to the alignment and advancement of the national nursing practice, education, research and leadership agendas;
  • to develop strong strategic coalitions and partnership with other health care leadership groups;
  • to support the development of current and emerging executive nurse leaders in Canada;
  • to provide a forum to discuss and share strategies related to nursing, education, research and leadership; and,
  • to support the editor and the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership, ACEN's official journal, which focuses on the following four domains of nursing: administration, practice, teaching and research. The journal is published four times a year.

ACEN is an associate member of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA - see below).

For more information, visit ACEN's website.

Canadian Association for Nursing Research (CANR)

The Canadian Association for Nursing Research (CANR) is a national organization with representation from every province and territory. Members are nurses, students and others who represent clinical practice, administration, or education and research, and who practice in hospital, community, industry, research and educational settings.

CANR's mission is to foster research-based nursing practice and practice-based nursing research by:

  • providing information about research studies, methods, funding and other resources;
  • strengthening linkages between research, education, administration, and clinic practice;
  • representing members' interests to governments, funding agencies, and other nursing organizations;
  • recognizing excellence in nursing activities; and,
  • educating professionals and the public about the significance of the partnership between nursing research and practice.

CANR has a partnership with the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, which is published by the School of Nursing at McGill University. CANR is an associate member of CNA. For more information, visit CANR's website.

Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN)

The Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) is the national voice for registered nursing education and registered nursing research and represents registered nursing programs in Canada. CASN establishes and promotes national standards of excellence for nursing education. The Association works to advance nursing knowledge and facilitate the integration of theory, research and practice in nursing. CASN also contributes to public policy and provides a national forum for nursing education and research.

CASN is the official accrediting agency for university registered nursing programs in Canada, and its member organizations represent all universities and colleges which offer part or all of an undergraduate or graduate degree in nursing. (CASN is a voluntary organization). CASN also has several affiliate members, specifically some provincial councils of nursing schools. CASN is a member of a number of national organizations such as the Association of Accrediting Agencies of Canada, the Canadian Consortium for Research, the Network for the Advancement of Health Services Research, and national and international networks for discussion of issues in higher education and nursing.

CASN maintains numerous unique database collections under the following categories:

  • Registered Nursing Education Programs;
  • Canadian International Nurse Researchers;
  • Canadian Nursing Research Funding;
  • Registered Nursing Student and Faculty Statistics; and
  • Nursing Theses.

For more information, visit CASN's website at:

The Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU)

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) was established in 1981 to facilitate interaction among nursing unions in Canada and provide a united front on issues which affect unionized Registered Nurses and the quality of health care. The CFNU was reconstituted in 1999 as the national affiliating body for nurses to the Canadian Labour Congress.

The mission of the CFNU is to provide a proactive, unified, national voice for quality health care and the socio-economic welfare of nurses and others. The strategic focus of the CFNU is building a national voice for:

  • the role of nurses;
  • the protection and preservation of public health care;
  • the advocacy of social justice and equity; and
  • the development of an international network and solidarity of nurses.

CFNU member organizations are as follows:

  • British Columbia Nurses Union (BCNU);
  • United Nurses of Alberta (UNA);
  • Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN);
  • Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU);
  • Ontario Nurses Association (ONA):
  • New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU);
  • Nova Scotia Nurses Union (NSNU);
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses Union (NLNU); and
  • Prince Edward Island Nurses Union (PEINU).

For more information, visit the CFNU website.

Canadian Nurses Association (CNA)

The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is the federation of 11 provincial and territorial professional nurses associations which represent more than 120,000 Registered Nurses (RNs), including Nurse Practitioners. Founded in 1908, CNA's mission is to advance the quality of nursing in the interest of the public. Through the years, CNA has actively participated in the development and improvement of health care in Canada and internationally.

CNA's member organizations are the regulatory bodies for registered nursing associations in the following provinces and territories: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon. For Ontario, the Registered Nurses Assocaition of Ontario is the CNA members organization. A nurse must hold individual membership in one of these provincial or territorial organizations in order to belong to CNA. The Association does not represent either the College of Nurses of Ontario or l'Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec. CNA also has numerous associate and affiliate member organizations, which represent the specialized interests of nurses.

The policy pillars of the CNA are: certification; strategic communications; international policy and development; public policy; nursing policy; and regulatory policy.

In pursuit of its vision, CNA has the following goals:

  • public policy incorporates the determinants of health and the principles of primary health care and expands the application of the principles of the Canada Health Act across the health care continuum;
  • public trust in nurses is maintained;
  • the nursing profession achieves its full potential; and,
  • the Canadian nursing profession contributes to the advancement of global health and equity.

For more information, visit CNA's.

Canadian Nurses Foundation (CNF)

The Canadian Nurses Foundation (CNF) was founded in 1962 through a donation from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It is the only registered charity solely committed to promoting health and patient care in Canada by supporting nursing education and research. Contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations and organizations help CNF to support nurses entering the profession or seeking advanced education.

CNF initiatives help build research capacity through:

  • certification and study awards for higher education;
  • nursing research grants through the Nursing Care Partnership Program (NCP - see below);
  • maintaining the Canadian Nursing History Collection;
  • financial support for other educational purposes; and,
  • advocating for the development, dissemination and utilization of nursing knowledge.

The NCP is a component of the Nursing Research Fund, a ten-year, $25 million investment created by the federal government in 1999 and administered by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF). The NCP component is directed to support clinical nursing research. In 2003, CHSRF granted the Canadian Nurses Foundation a five-year renewable award of $2.5 million for the administration of the NCP. NCP defines research on nursing care issues as research which is practice-based or will provide the groundwork for future practice-based studies.

While not an associate member organization, the CNF is closely associated with the CNA, which has contributed a three-year operating grant to CNF to help it achieve selfsufficiency. For more information, visit CNF's website.

Canadian Practical Nurses Association (CPNA)

The Canadian Practical Nurses Association (CPNA), incorporated in 1975, is the national association representing provincial/territorial licensed practical nurse organizations and affiliated individuals from across Canada. The mission of the CPNA is dedication to quality health care for the public through excellence in nursing practice. To accomplish this, the goals of the CPNA are as follows:

  • to promote excellence in nursing practice through education and research;
  • to promote the development of national practical nursing standards; and,
  • to provide leadership in the development, coordination and promotion of professional initiatives.

CPNA member organizations are as follows:

  • Licensed Practical Nurses Association of British Columbia (LPNABC);
  • College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA);
  • Saskatchewan Association of Practical Nurses (SALPN);
  • Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Manitoba (LPNAM);
  • Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO);
  • Association of New Brunswick Licensed Practical Nurses (ANBLPN); and,s
  • Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Prince Edward Island (LPNAPEI).

Individuals registered as LPNs in good standing with their provincial/territorial registrar from jurisdictions which do not belong to CPNA are entitled to affiliate membership upon payment of the applicable annual fee. For more information, visit CPNA's website.

Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada (RPNC)

Registered psychiatric nursing is regulated as a distinct profession in Canada in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada (RPNC) is an incorporated body that provides a unified voice for Registered Psychiatric Nurses in Canada.

The provincial regulatory organizations that comprise the RPNC are as follows:

  • The College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of British Columbia (CRPNBC);
  • The Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Alberta (RPNAA);.
  • The Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan (RPNAS);and,
  • The College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Manitoba (CRPNM).

These organizations are responsible for enforcing standards of the profession in their respective jurisdictions. The RPNC can be reached through any of its four member organizations. The official mailing address is through the RPNAA.

For more information, visit RPNC's member websites at:

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