CIC News has, in the past, discussed the high demand for nurses in Canada, as well as their many options for immigration. In addition to nurses, Canada is looking for workers in a number of other healthcare fields. In fact, Canadian immigration programs across the country have been structured to specifically attract healthcare practitioners with a wide range of expertise.
This article is a brief overview of the many immigration options currently available for professionals in the field of healthcare services:
Canadian immigration options for medical occupations
Individuals with healthcare expertise are needed in virtually every province and town in Canada. This need is reflected by the abundance of immigration programs geared towards such professionals.
Because of the diversity of programs currently open to healthcare practitioners, successful applicants will have the option to apply to the program most suited to their strengths, and to settle anywhere in the country they choose.
The following programs are particularly favorable to healthcare workers:
The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program – The FSW program is currently limited to 24 eligible occupations. Of these occupations, a full nine are related to the healthcare field. They are as follows:
- Audiologists and speech-language pathologists;
- Occupational therapists;
- Medical laboratory technologists;
- Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants;
- Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists;
- Medical radiation technologists;
- Medical sonographers; and
- Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists.
A maximum of 300 applications will be accepted in each eligible occupation. However, as of the time of print all occupations (*with the exception of physiotherapists) are still open and accepting applications.
The Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program – This program is open to all skilled workers and semi-skilled workers. In order to be eligible, individuals must score a minimum number of points on the program’s points grid. Applicants with educational backgrounds in healthcare are in luck, because many of these occupations receive very high points, thus boosting the application.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) – Most Canadian provinces and territories run their own PNPs. These programs allow individual provinces to nominate targeted candidates to the federal government for Canadian Permanent Residency. All PNPs have a stream focusing on skilled workers, under which many healthcare professionals may be considered. However, some have even gone so far as to dedicate specific streams to bringing in health professionals. These include:
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) – The Health Care Professional stream of the BC PNP was created to retain medical workers in the following fields:
- Registered nurses;
- Registered psychiatric nurses;
- Nurse practitioners; and
- Allied health professional s(such as: diagnostic medical sonographers, clinical pharmacists, medical laboratory techs, medical radiation techs, occupational therapists, physiotherapists)
- Applicants to this program must have a job offer from a British Columbia-based employer.
Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) – The SINP has similarly created a category for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Applicants must already be working full-time in the province for at least six months in order to be eligible.
Applying to a program
In addition to demonstrating their work experience, healthcare professionals must also meet other eligibility requirements. Depending on the program, this can include meeting minimum requirements for education, English or French language skills and personal funds. In addition, interested candidates should take special note of the following:
Licensing/Certification– Many, if not most, healthcare occupations are regulated in Canada. This means that before practicing in Canada, individuals must hold the necessary Canadian certification, licensing or authorization. Some immigration programs require that applicants already obtain, or be in the process of obtaining, the necessary certification before applying.
Educational verification – Many immigration programs require that applicants have their educational credentials assessed prior to submitting an application. Individuals should take care to make sure their foreign education is sufficient to practice in their desired occupation in Canada.
Organizations – Many health professions are governed by professional societies, organizations, or unions in Canada. Applicants should do research and learn how to become a member of these organizations, if necessary.
Once in Canada
Once a successful applicant has arrived in Canada, he or she may take advantage of the country’s world-class settlement services and robust job market. Though applicants must declare the province where they intend to initially land as immigrants, Canadian Permanent Residents may live and work anywhere in the country. This means that healthcare professionals have the luxury of finding the job and location that best suits them and their families, regardless of where this may be in Canada.
“Healthcare workers have gone through the processes of obtaining valuable skills,” said Attorney David Cohen. “In Canada, these skills are truly regarded in high esteem. This esteem is reflected in high salaries and workplace mobility, which is why our country continues to be a top choice for healthcare professionals from around the world.”
While salaries vary depending on the field and an individual’s experience, workers in Canada in general experience some of the highest wages in all G8 countries. Health professionals can often expect salaries of over $40-50 per hour, depending on their field and location in the country. Wages are only expected to rise in upcoming years, as current workers retire and the competition to attract younger professionals increases.