Canada takes aim at healthcare accreditation amongst historic labour shortages

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: December 5, 2022

On December 5th, 2022, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced a call for proposals to help Internationally Educated Healthcare Professionals (IEHPs) work in Canada’s healthcare sector.

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At today’s press conference, Minister Fraser (on behalf of the honorable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion), announced a call for project proposals to help streamline and enable IEHPs to gain skills, experience, and local credentials; so that their talents may be utilized properly.

Proposals will be handled through the Foreign Credential Recognition Program (FCRP), a federal program that provides funding to governments and organizations to support foreign credential recognition in Canada. Minister Fraser announced an investment of $90 million through the program, for chosen projects.

Per the announcement, a project is eligible if it can either:

  • Reduce obstacles to foreign credential recognition for IEHPs, by enhancing recognition processes, streamlining recognition stages, and expanding access to field practice; or
  • Provide IEHPs with appropriate Canadian work experience for their preferred fields of employment, while also providing support services for participants, such as childcare and transportation costs, mentoring, and coaching; or
  • Facilitating labour mobility between Canadian jurisdictions for health care professionals and IEHPs in order to minimize structural and administrative barriers for health care professionals who seek to work in another jurisdiction.

In addition, eligible projects must either:

  • Develop testing and implementation of credential recognition systems with an emphasis on reducing regulatory processes and/or harmonization of occupational standards in order to increase international credential recognition and/or interprovincial labour mobility; or
  • Provide wage subsidies, job placements, and mentorship to IEHPs to assist them in integrating into the Canadian labour market.

Proposals will be accepted until Jan 30th, 2023. Successful projects can receive a minimum of $500,000 and a maximum of $10 million in funding.

Why is Canada doing this?

Canada is facing historic labour shortages in several industries, including seasonal agricultural, retail and tourism, and (most pressingly) healthcare.

Minister Fraser noted in his address that 47% of skilled newcomers with a health education from overseas were either jobless or underemployed in non-health professions that required only a high-school degree. In response, Canada has already removed barriers to permanent residence (PR) for healthcare workers—announcing earlier this year that physicians in Canada on temporary status would be eligible for economic immigration, despite being self-employed on paper.

Immigrants working in Canada with a foreign degree were twice as likely to work in a job that they were overqualified for when compared to workers with a Canadian degree.

Based on this persistent over-qualification, changes to Canada’s credentialing system will be key to properly addressing labour shortages, and to optimally take advantage of internationally-trained skilled talent, already in the country.

While the current scope of this project focuses on healthcare professionals, it is likely that the federal government will continue to explore accreditation innovations for other sectors, as more and more employers report a skills gap among their employees.

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