Sexual Misconduct Standard for Nurses

Consultation Type:

Consultation Overview

We are developing a new sexual misconduct standard for all nurses in Nova Scotia.

As part of this initiative, we are seeking feedback from diverse voices from communities to help inform the direction and development of the sexual misconduct standard.

To provide feedback, complete our brief survey to share your ideas about what we should consider as we begin to develop the new standard.

Background on Consultation

As a regulator, public safety is our top priority and we are responsible for responding to complaints and reports that may have caused harm to clients. We have decided to develop the sexual misconduct standard:

  • To meet our mandate of public safety and help to prevent serious harm from occurring by having clearly defined expectations for nurses
  • To reflect the meaningful discussion within our communities and the public’s zero tolerance attitude about sexual misconduct
  • To empower the public, nurses and others to report sexual misconduct with the confidence in knowing that we take this matter very seriously

Sexual misconduct accounts for 1% of all disciplinary decisions from the past 10 years. Although this number is small, we recognize that sexual misconduct results in great harm to clients and this standard is an added measure to continue upholding public safety.

Current Stage

It is important to know that we are currently in the early phase of developing the standard.

At this time, we know that the standard will at minimum:

  • Apply to all nursing designations in Nova Scotia
  • Outline the practice expectations for all nurses
  • Include definitions of sexual misconduct and other important concepts, such as sexual abuse
  • Live as a document separate from each designation’s standards of practice but carry the same regulatory force as their standards and code of ethics

Stakeholder feedback, in addition to best available evidence, supporting materials from other health regulators in Canada and legal advice will determine the specific components of the standard.

Consultation Next Steps

We are developing this standard with the expertise and guidance of the public, nurses, subject-matter-experts and other key stakeholders through our consultation process.

In addition to the public consultation available here, we are also meeting in-person with employers, subject-matter-experts and unions who represent nurses in Nova Scotia. These additional touchpoints help to supplement the feedback collected online.

Once this consultation is complete on March 8, we will:

  1. Incorporate feedback from this consultation: we will review, consider and incorporate feedback from stakeholders where appropriate.
  2. Prepare a draft of the sexual misconduct standard: we will draft the sexual misconduct standard, incorporating stakeholder feedback, legal advice, best available evidence and supporting materials from other health regulators in Canada.
  3. Hold an open public consultation on the draft sexual misconduct standard: we will release a draft of the standard and stakeholders with have an opportunity to review and provide feedback on the draft document. Public consultation will be open from April 9 to May 10, 2020.

A summary of our full consultation process will be available on our website during the summer of 2020. We anticipate releasing the sexual misconduct standard in June 2020.

Before You Begin

At this early stage of consultation and development, we have not yet determined the definition for sexual misconduct within the context of nursing.

However, we do know that sexual misconduct is conduct that is sexual in nature and generally involves power imbalance and people in positions of authority. In the context of nursing, this could include:

  • Conduct, behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature made by a nurse towards a current or former client or colleague that could cause offence, humiliation or otherwise negatively affect the recipient’s health and well-being.

Across Canada

Most recently, the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta published the standard Protection of Patients from Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia just completed their public consultation on a Draft Professional Standard and Guidelines Regarding Sexual Misconduct by Physicians. The College of Nurses of Ontario have also conducted research and developed tools on sexual abuse.

For More Information

Visit this initiative’s homepage or reach out to us at

Public Safety Notice

Our public consultation is to collect feedback about the direction and development of a sexual misconduct standard. It is not a forum to submit concerns or complaints about a nurse’s practice. Please contact us immediately at if you need to talk with a member of our team.

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