An examination of the nurse salary information reveals that the highest paying nursing jobs in Canada are in the northern territories. Registered nurse salaries there can range from $58,000 to $90,000 per annum. Relocation, housing, and northern living allowances can top up a registered nurse salary by another $23,000 per year. Bonuses and allowances are offered as incentives to attract and retain nurses in Canadian nursing jobs in the north.
Are Northern Nursing Jobs in Canada for You?
The three northern territories in Canada have some of the highest nurse to population ratios, but still the population is small so the number of jobs available are not large in comparison to some of the larger urban areas in the western and eastern provinces of Canada.
Many communities in the north are remote and isolated. For example there is a population of 40,000 people living in the 1.17 million square miles of the entire Northwest Territories and only one major city (Yellowknife). There are only 4 hospitals in the entire territory and 28 community health centers.
Contrast that to the Greater Vancouver Metropolitan area on the southwest coast of British Columbia which has over 21 municipalities spread out over 1,111 square miles ( 2,877.36 square kilometers) and a population of 2.3 million with 6 acute care hospitals in Vancouver city, and at least 8 in the surrounding area.
The high registered nurse salaries offered for Canadian nursing jobs in the north must be balanced against the remoteness of the setting and also the high cost of living. Since all supplies are trucked or flown into the area it is much more expensive to buy necessities like food, clothing and heating fuel.
It is also important to understand some of the requirements for nursing in the north if you are considering a nursing career there. Salary is one thing but specialized skills are quite another.
Specialized Skills are Needed
Many registered nursing jobs in northern Canada require specialized language and clinical skills. In the Northwest Territories for example there are 10 official languages. Most nursing positions require knowledge of the First Nations and Inuit culture and language.
Specialized clinical skills are needed for what is called “outpost” nursing. These are nursing jobs where the nurse practices independently in communities without full time physician coverage.
Because of these specialized requirements Canadian nursing jobs in the north are not recommended for entry level practice.
If you are attracted by the highest paying nursing jobs in Canada, the good news is that the there are plenty of incentives to move to the north for work in health care.
As an example the Community Health Nurse (CHN) Development Program in the Northwest Territories offers nurses with less than two years of work experience an opportunity to develop what are termed “outpost” nursing skills in preparation for some of the highest paying nursing jobs in the country. Nurses who enroll in the program are mentored through a course that offers both theory and practice in order to develop the skills necessary for these specialized nursing jobs.
Also the labor unions have negotiated “northern allowances” for workers and these financial incentives are added to wages and provide extra income to make up for travel costs and the high cost of northern living.
So when you are reviewing the registered nurse salary information posted in connection to advertisements for nursing jobs in the north of Canada make sure you know what you are getting into and take into consideration some of the factors that may affect what it costs to live in the north and consider if you are actually suited to northern living and the requirements of nursing jobs in these small and specialized communities.
Many people in the northern regions of Canada love living in the north and like the lifestyle that includes a small community feeling and outdoor recreation activities in the snow and ice climate. But just be aware that the nights can be long, the summers can be short, and you may require a driver’s license for a snow mobile instead of a car, for there is no public transport system to get you to your job when you work in nursing jobs in Canada in the northern regions.