Canada is Fighting Critical Shortage of Healthcare Professionals – It’s the right time for Foreign Nursing Workers!

Canada is Fighting Critical Shortage of Healthcare Professionals – It’s the right time for Foreign Nursing Workers!

Canada’s healthcare sector is currently fighting an acute shortage of healthcare professionals across the country that has been termed ‘endemic’. The sector is going through a high rate of burnout and staff shortages. According to the report by Statistics Canada, the number of job vacancies has increased by almost 92 percent from September to December 2021 period as compared to the pre-pandemic.

CEO of HealthCareCAN, Paul-Émile Cloutier said in a recent interview that “the situation is worrisome and the system is bleeding people at all levels.”

In the light of the situation, the federal government of Canada promises funding of $1.5 million to eliminate barriers for immigrants who wish to work in the country in the healthcare sector. The parliamentary secretary to Canada’s immigration Minister, Sean Fraser announced that ‘the funding of $1.5 million will help newcomers to work in the Canadian health sector faster’. The designed funds are envisioned to encourage collaboration and information sharing in the sector. Also, it will help the foreign-educated healthcare professionals to get their credentials acknowledged faster.

This new project is exclusively designed on the success of the National Newcomer Navigation Network, an online platform for international healthcare workers who are willing to work in Canada.

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Canada is in Dire Need of Nurses

Undoubtedly, the pandemic has aggravated the need for nurses and other healthcare professionals in Canada. Pre-pandemic also Canada had been battling the shortage of nurses and introduced several immigration pathways aimed at healthcare professionals.

Nurses come under one of the two categories in the federal government’s National Occupation Classification (NOC). Regulated nurses and psychiatric nurses are NOC 3012, skill level A, whereas licensed applied nurses are NOC 3222, skill level B. These skill levels are pretty essential as they determine what type of immigration programs nurses will qualify for.

Due to the pandemic, Canada saw fewer immigrants in 2020 than expected. Canada recently stated a spike in its immigration targets to over 1.2 million until the end of 2023. One effective way to assist in reaching this total is by making it convenient for individuals to make their temporary status permanent.

Express Entry Programs for Nurses

Nurses may qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). These two federal immigration pathways are managed by the Express Entry system.

It is an online immigration application system of the federal government. Interested Canadian immigrants submit their profiles to the pool to get a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Express Entry applicants are evaluated based on their skilled work experience, age, education, and language proficiency, among other factors. The highest-scoring applicants will get invited to apply for permanent resident status in the bi-weekly draws.

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Due to the pandemic, draws for CEC and FSWP candidates have been paused. However, IRCC is planning to resume draws from July 6. And, the processing time of the new application would also return to the standard of 6 months.

Federal Skilled Worker Program Eligibility

This program requires applicants to have a minimum of one year of continuous work experience within the past 10 years in a skilled occupation. The work experience can be completed in a different country. An FSWP candidate must score at least CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) 7 in either English or French on all the language abilities: Writing, Speaking, Reading, and Listening. Also, one must score a minimum 67of 100 on the six-factor test that evaluates applicants’ education level, language skills, and whether they have a job in Canada.

Canadian Experience Class Eligibility

The CEC requires at least one year of skilled work experience within the last three years. In this program, the work experience must have been completed in Canada. Applicants must have a CLB 7 while applying with work experience at a NOC 0 or A skill level (Registered Nurses). Those applying with NOC skill level B require a CLB 5. Through this program, one does not require to have a job offer, however, having one may increase the likelihood to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

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Provincial Nominee Program For Nurses

Though the federal government gets to make the final decision on who can immigrate to Canada, the provinces can nominate a few applicants through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Some PNPs are dedicated to encouraging nurses with skilled work experience to apply for the provincial nomination. Often, PNPs conduct immigration nomination draws for nurses.

Several provinces have more than one program that invites nurses. If these applicants are nominated, they get 600 CRS points added to their Express Entry Score. Here’s a list of some of the Provincial Nominee Program pathways for nurses.

  • Ontario invites nurses to apply through its Human Capital Priorities Stream.
  • British Columbia offers a Healthcare Professional category under its Skills Immigration and Express Entry pathways.
  • Saskatchewan has recently launched an International Health Worker EOI pool specifically for nurses.
  • Nova Scotia’s Labour Market Priorities Stream occasionally holds draws inviting nurses to apply for a provincial nomination.
  • New Brunswick’s Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) program is a pathway for foreign nurses who can speak English or French.


Canadian province Quebec operates its own immigration system. While the federal government has the final say on Quebec immigration applications. The province offers its Regular Skilled Worker Program and the Quebec Experience Program. Nurses can apply through either of the programs. Both the pathways require the workers to have fluency in the French language.

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