Mandatory Reporting of Colleagues to Regulators: An Overview of Requirements for Registered Nurses in 12 Canadian Jurisdictions

Kathleen Leslie, Meaghan Dunk, Sabina Staempfli, Karen Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Background: Identifying and investigating concerns about individual healthcare professionals’ practice is an important way that regulatory bodies protect the public. One way that regulators become aware of these concerns is through reports made by other healthcare professionals. While all nurses are under an ethical duty to protect patients from harm and report unsafe practice, in many Canadian jurisdictions, certain reports to regulatory bodies are legally mandated. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the comprehensiveness and content of legislative requirements for registered nurses (RNs) to report concerns about colleagues to regulatory bodies across 12 Canadian jurisdictions. Document Collection and Analysis: Legislation and regulatory documents from 12 Canadian jurisdictions were analyzed for content related to RNs’ obligations to report concerns to regulators. Outcomes: There is considerable variation in the legislative mandatory reporting frameworks across these Canadian jurisdictions, primarily in the scope of reportable conduct and the threshold that triggers the requirement to report. Eight provinces have statutory requirements for RNs to report certain concerns about fellow healthcare professionals to regulators. The most common reportable conduct in legislative mandatory reporting provisions in Canada is sexual misconduct or sexual abuse of a patient. In six provinces, mandatory reporting requirements extend beyond sexual abuse or misconduct to concerns about conduct, competence, and capacity. There was variability in the language used in these legislative provisions across all reviewed jurisdictions. Conclusion: Understanding the legal reporting requirements across jurisdictions is important for nurses, particularly those engaging in virtual practice or otherwise practicing across provincial/territorial boundaries. We identify elements that would benefit from more consistency across jurisdictions and consider the future of legally mandated reporting for RNs. As the legislative frameworks in various jurisdictions are undergoing reform, regulators and policymakers should critically evaluate mandatory reporting frameworks to allow for greater harmonization and more effective reporting in the public interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-77
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nursing Regulation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct. 2021


  • Nursing regulation
  • duty to report
  • legislation
  • legislative frameworks
  • mandatory reporting


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