The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses (herein called the Code) is a statement of the ethical values of nurses and of nurses’ commitments to persons with health-care needs and persons receiving care. The Code is both aspirational and regulatory. It is an aspirational document designed to inform everyone about the ethical values and subsequent responsibilities and endeavours of nurses. It is also a regulatory tool. Nursing in Canada is a self-regulating profession; thus, nurses are bound to a code of ethics as part of a regulatory process that serves and protects the public.
The Code 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 persons receiving care and with colleagues in nursing and other fields of health-care provision.
The Code 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 Code is developed by nurses for nurses, and it has a practical orientation supported by theoretical diversity. It is a means for self-evaluation, feedback and peer review and is a basis for advocacy. The Code also serves as an ethical basis from which nurses can advocate for quality practice environments that support the delivery of safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care.