01/10/2013 03:15 EST | Updated 03/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Number of Canadian nurses grows by twice labour force rate

Canada's supply of nurses has increased by almost 10 per cent since 2007, growing at twice the rate of the country's general labour force, according to a new report.

Thursday's annual report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information on regulated nurses showed 360,572 regulated nurses were employed in 2011.

"The supply of regulated nurses eligible to practise (including those employed and those not employed) grew by almost 10 per cent in Canada between 2007 and 2011," the report's authors said.

"Over the same period, the entire Canadian labour force grew by less than five per cent, as did the general population."

In a release, the institute called it "a positive trend in the renewal of the nursing profession."

For employed nurses, the increase was more than eight per cent since 2007.

Over the past five years, the proportion of regulated nurses younger than age 35 increased to 23.7 per cent of the Canadian workforce from 20.9 per cent.

The number of registered nurses approaching retirement continues to increase, however.

In 2011, 11.9 per cent of RNs were age 60 and older. More than half worked part time or on a casual basis.

Overall in 2011, more than 56 per cent of employed nurses were full time.

The report includes data on the nursing profession such as participants' age, education, mobility and place of employment, in all provinces and territories.

The proportion of international graduates in Saskatchewan and Alberta both increased over the study period, a reflection of recruitment drives for RNs in those provinces.

International graduates comprised 8.6 per cent of the country's registered nurses.

The definition of regulated nurses include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and registered psychiatric nurses with varying scopes of practice.

Hospitals were the main employer for registered nurses while licensed practical nurses tended to work in long-term care.