Ontario to add thousands of foreign-trained nurses to workforce

Shelby Thevenot
Updated: Aug, 21, 2023
  • Published: January 14, 2022

Ontario wants thousands of internationally trained nurses to come work in the province's hospitals by March 31.

Ontario is sending about 300 of these nurses to 50 high-need hospitals in the province. They will care for patients under supervision while they work toward getting their licence in Ontario. So far, more than 1,200 internationally educated nurses have applied to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) and expressed interest in these initiatives.

By the end of March, Ontario wants 6,000 more health care professionals working in Ontario hospitals. These workers include nursing students, medical students, and other students in the field of health care.

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Ontario, along with the rest of Canada, had been experiencing nursing shortages since even before the pandemic. Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, Ontario launched emergency programs that have added more than 6,700 health care professionals to work in long-term care homes and other care settings in an effort to lighten the load on hospitals.

Ontario promised to invest $342 million over the next five years to recruitment initiatives in its 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario. The multi-million dollar investment is expected to add over 13,000 workers to Ontario’s health care system, including over 5,000 new and up-skilled nurses as well as 8,000 personal support workers.

“The pandemic has highlighted the need for more staff on the front lines of our health care system,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance in a government media release. “Our government committed to spare no expense in the fight against the pandemic to protect people’s health and the economy, which is why investing in the front lines of our health care system was one of the key pillars of our plan to Build Ontario.”

In 2020, there were 20,678 internationally educated nurses registered and eligible to practice in Ontario. This represented 12.2% of Ontario’s nursing workforce in 2020, up from 10.3% of in 2010.

Cases in Ontario are currently at a 7-day average of about 11,000 cases per day, rounded up. Omicron is the dominant strain running through the province, and the Delta variant is responsible for about 500 cases per day.

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