Black Immigrant Daily News
International healthcare workers interested in migrating should consider Canada because of its friendly immigration system and the government’s support and investment in integrating these workers into the labour market.
According to statistics Canada in the first quarter of 2021, nearly one in every five job vacancies in Canada was in the field of health care and social assistance. Many of these vacancies in the healthcare sector go unfilled.
Today, a persistent healthcare worker storage continues to ripple the country. The federal and provincial governments have been considering solutions to the healthcare crisis, and part of that plan is to register more internationally educated health professionals.
Internationally educated healthcare workers face barriers, including immigration and registration with their respective professional bodies to work in their field in Canada. Although this is so, many healthcare workers have successfully made the transition.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, internationally educated healthcare professionals already make up a significant portion of the healthcare workforce in Canada.
The statistics at the organisation show that in 2021 26.2 per cent of physicians in Canada were internationally educated, 22 per cent of physiotherapists were internationally educated, 34 per cent of pharmacists were internationally educated, nine per cent of regulated nurses were internationally educated, and six per cent of occupational therapists were internationally educated.
At the provincial level, the percentage of internationally educated health professionals varies. For example, in Ontario and Alberta statistics from the Canadian Institute for health information reveal that 48 per cent of pharmacists in Ontario were internationally educated, and 38 per cent of pharmacists in Alberta were internationally educated.
Big Push towards accrediting internationally educated nurses
Internationally educated health professionals, like others, must obtain registration to practice in a Canadian province.
Canada currently faces a massive shortage of nurses nationwide, with data for the Canadian Institute of Health Information revealing that the shortage is the highest in Canada’s most populous province of Ontario.
Ontario and British Columbia are Canadas’s two largest provinces in population size. The data from 2021 reveals that approximately 12 per cent of nurses in Ontario are internationally educated. British Columbia leads the country with the highest amount of internationally educated nurses at 14 per cent.
Ontario’s Health Minister Sylvia Jones has directed Ontario colleges to find solutions for the health care worker shortage.
The province has also announced an incentive whereby the government of Ontario is temporarily covering the costs of examination, application and registration fees for internationally educated nurses.
The government of Ontario has also implemented other changes to support the recruitment efforts of internationally trained nurses and to make it easier for nurses trained abroad to register and practice in Ontario, including allowing internationally trained nurses to register in a temporary class and begin working towards full registration.
Starting January 1, 2023, health regulatory colleges must comply with time limits to make registration decisions for applicants; health regulatory colleges are prohibited from requiring Canadian work experience for the purpose of registration with some exceptions, such as when equivalent international experience is accepted; and language tests approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) are now accepted to reduce duplicate language proficiency testing for immigrants to Canada.
The government of British Columbia has also announced an incentive like that offered in Ontario whereby internationally educated nurses will no longer be required to pay application and assessment fees for licensing upfront. These fees usually cost over $3700 CAD. These fees will now be covered directly by the province, and the measure aims to remove financial barriers for internationally educated nurses who want to work in the province.
Immigration pathways for health care workers
According to data from the government of Canada, since 2015, over 22,400 people, including nearly just over 3,600 physicians and 8,600 nurses have become permanent residents through Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Programme.
The Government of Canada has made changes to immigration law through Bill C 19, which builds on the success of the express entry programme and allows the government to better respond to the economic needs of the country by selecting immigrants that will fill labour needs.
The provisions of Bill C 19 came into force upon Royal Assent on June 23, 2022, and the government will be implementing the changes following changes to its internal IT systems.
*The article also does not constitute legal advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Carissa Mears is a triple-qualified lawyer authorised to practice immigration law throughout Canada and licensed to practice law in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. She has served as an adjunct lecturer in law at the University of the West Indies Mona and The University of the Commonwealth Caribbean. She is passionate about making legal issues understandable to the general public. You can contact her at in**@ne************.com