An aging population combined with a shortage of nurses is a dangerous combination for the Canadian health care sector. The number of practicing nurses is declining worldwide and in Canada, the shortage of nurses is causing longer hospital wait times and a decrease in the quality of service provided.
Canadian nurses themselves are part of the problem. In the province of Quebec alone, over 71,000 nurses are now over the age of 55 and are quickly approaching retirement. Canadian nursing schools are not producing enough graduates to fill the nursing vacancies and because of this shortage, countless nurses are required to work over-time. As Canada is not producing enough nurses, foreign-trained nurses may be the best prescription.
Canadian immigration programs, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program, target specific occupations that are in high demand in Canada, like Registered and Licensed Practical Nurses. Last June, the Federal Skilled Worker Program was adjusted so that only 1,000 applications would be accepted for each of the 29 eligible occupations. As of December 2010, Registered Nurses had already reached the cap limit.
Attorney David Cohen offers the following advice for nurses, “Although the Registered Nurses occupation has reached its cap limit under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Licensed Practical Nurses still have over 800 spots available. An applicant needs one year of paid work experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse within the past 10 years in order to qualify, even if they are not currently working as a nurse. As well, there are many other immigration programs available for nurses, such as the Quebec Skilled Worker Program and the numerous Provincial Nominee Programs. Nurses can also obtain a work permit for Canada once he/she has a job offer from a Canadian employer.” Many Canadian hospitals are currently in desperate need of nurses. Because of its shortage of nurses, one hospital in Quebec, has recently announced that they respond to any nurse who submits a resumé within 1 hour.
All nurses, including those who are internationally trained, are required to be certified by a provincial regulation body before they are able to practice in Canada. Registered Nurses, except those wishing to practice in Quebec, must also pass the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination. Canada’s Economic Action Plan and the Foreign Credential Recognition Program are working together to assist foreign workers to better integrate into the Canadian workplace. The assessment of foreign credentials and experience is currently being streamlined for 8 priority occupations, including Registered Nurses, meaning their credentials will be evaluated in less time compared to other occupations. The next set of 6 priority occupations will include Licensed Practical Nurses.
If you are a foreign-trained nurse who wants to immigrate to Canada, there has never been a better time to apply.