Friday, July 23, 2004
This presentation is part of : Health Human Resource Planning
Bringing the Future into Focus: Projecting Registered Nurse Retirement in Canada
Linda L. O'Brien-Pallas, RN, PhD, Faculty of Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

In Canada, nearly one-third of RNs in the workforce are aged 50 years or older, and will soon reach the typical retirement age of 65 years. Research also indicates that an increasing proportion of registered nurses are retiring early, many by age 56. What impact will retirement have on the nursing workforce in the next several years?

Population, Sample, Setting and Years:

All nurses who submitted registration data to provincial registration bodies and were included in the Canadian Institute of Health Research Nursing Data Base (RNDB) in the year 2001.


A cross sectional and longitudinal analysis was employed.


Assuming a typical retirement age of 65 years, Canada is projected to lose a total of 29,746 RNs aged 50 or older to retirement or death by 2006, an amount equivalent to 13% of its 2001 workforce.

Among the employment sectors, the most severe losses are expected in the Long-term Care sector, where the equivalent of 19% of the 2001 workforce could be lost to retirement or death by 2006.

If RNs are assumed to retire early at age 55, rather than at age 65, the number of projected losses more than doubles to 64,248 by 2006. This is equivalent to more than one-quarter (28%) of the 2001 RN workforce.

The implementation of successful retention incentives could significantly reduce expected losses of RNs due to retirement. Almost half of the projected losses could be avoided, depending on the region being considered, if retention strategies were successful in retaining 100% of RNs aged 50-54, 75% of those aged 55-59 and 50% of those aged 60-64. As it stands if we consider a 28% percent attrition rate from educational programs Canada needs to enroll 41, 314 new students if nurses retire at 65 and 89,233 if nurses retire at age 65.

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Sigma Theta Tau International
July 22-24, 2004