Canadian Nurses Association
Purpose of the Code
The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA)
Code of Ethics for Registered
(herein called the
) is a statement of the ethical values of
nurses and of nurses’ commitments to persons with health-care needs and
persons receiving care.
is both aspirational and regulatory. It is an
aspirational document designed to inform everyone about the ethical
subsequent responsibilities and endeavours of
It is also a regulatory tool.
Nursing in Canada is a self-regulating profession; thus, nurses are bound to a code of
as part of a regulatory process that serves and protects the public.
provides guidance for ethical relationships, behaviours and decision-
making and is used in conjunction with professional standards, best practice,
research, laws and regulations that guide practice. It provides guidance for nurses
working through ethical challenges that arise in practice with
in nursing and other fields of health-care provision.
is intended for nurses in all contexts and domains of nursing practice
(clinical practice, education, administration, research and policy; CNA, 2015c) and
at all levels of decision-making. It is not based on a particular philosophy or ethical
theory but arises from different schools of thought, including relational ethics, an
ethic of care, principle-based ethics, feminist ethics, virtue ethics and values. The
is developed by nurses for nurses, and it has a practical orientation supported
. It is a means for self-evaluation, feedback and peer review
and is a basis for advocacy. The
also serves as an ethical basis from which
quality practice environments
that support the delivery
, competent and ethical care.
The societal context in which nurses work is constantly changing and can be a
significant influence on their practice. The
is revised periodically to ensure
that it is attuned to the needs of nurses by reflecting changes in social values and
conditions that affect the public, nurses and other
, and the
health-care system. Periodic revisions also promote lively dialogue and debate and
create greater awareness of and engagement with ethical issues among nurses in
may interest and be useful to all health-care providers.
Words or phrases in bold print are found in the glossary. They are shown in bold only on first appearance.
In this document, the terms
include registered nurses and/or nurses who are registered or
licensed in extended roles, such as nurse practitioners.