Canada’s healthcare sector has been significantly enriched by the contributions of internationally educated healthcare professionals (IEHPs). According to a study conducted by Statistics Canada, approximately 60% of IEHPs are trained in various medical fields such as nursing, medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry.
IEHPs’ Integration in Canada
There are 259,694 IEHPs in Canada, with a commendable 76% of them engaged in employment. While this percentage falls slightly below the 80% employment rate among their Canadian-educated counterparts, it underscores the substantial presence of IEHPs in the Canadian healthcare workforce. It is essential to note that this statistic encompasses IEHPs both in healthcare occupations and those pursuing alternative career paths.
Immigration’s Impact on Healthcare
The data from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) paints a broader picture of the changing landscape in Canadian healthcare. Currently, 25% of immigrants constitute the healthcare sector, and this figure is poised for significant growth.
Demographics and Arrival
Half of the IEHPs in Canada arrived during their core working years, between the ages of 25 and 34, showcasing their commitment to contributing to Canada’s healthcare system during their prime years. Furthermore, nearly one-third of all IEHPs arrived in Canada between 2016 and 2021, indicating a recent influx of healthcare talent.
Geographically, Ontario leads the way with the highest concentration of IEHPs, boasting 116,310 residents in the province. Following closely are British Columbia with 45,235 and Alberta with 42,035 IEHPs. On the other hand, the northern territories and the Atlantic provinces have the lowest numbers of IEHPs.
A crucial aspect highlighted in the study is where IEHPs pursued their education. Notably, 63% of IEHPs received their education in Asia, while 11% studied in English-speaking Western countries.
IEHPs’ Career Paths
Statistics Canada reports that one-third of IEHPs in Canada have studied nursing. Among them, the top five occupations include registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (34%), nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates (21%), licensed practical nurses (8%), light duty cleaners (2%), and social and community service workers (2%). Remarkably, over half of IEHPs in Prince Edward Island pursued nursing.
IEHPs trained as physicians constitute 15% of all IEHPs in Canada, with a significant concentration residing in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Addressing Healthcare Labor Shortages
The latest job vacancy data from Statistics Canada indicates 147,100 job vacancies as of June this year. The IEHP report suggests that given the substantial number of IEHPs residing in Canada, there are untapped resources that could address these labor shortages effectively.
Challenges and Solutions
One of the significant hurdles IEHPs face is obtaining licenses in regulated professions in Canada. Each province in Canada has its own regulatory body, each with varying requirements for healthcare professionals, creating a complex path for IEHPs to navigate. Nevertheless, several provinces have begun taking measures to remove these obstacles. Nova Scotia, for instance, has introduced an expedited pathway for international nurses with specific qualifications.
Ontario has also taken steps to streamline the registration process by introducing legislation that eliminates the requirement for Canadian work experience in some cases. IRCC has contributed by creating new Express Entry categories that prioritize healthcare professionals. In 2023, 2,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) were issued to healthcare workers.
The data presented by Statistics Canada highlights the invaluable contribution of internationally educated healthcare professionals to Canada’s healthcare sector. While challenges remain, proactive measures are being implemented to facilitate their integration. These efforts ensure that Canada’s healthcare system continues to benefit from the expertise and dedication of IEHPs, who play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Canadian healthcare. As the healthcare landscape evolves, IEHPs will undoubtedly play an increasingly prominent role in delivering quality healthcare to Canadians.