Nova Scotia set to expand immigration opportunities for foreign nationals in healthcare professions

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: October 8, 2023

First announced in late September, certain foreign nationals will soon be able to immigrate to Nova Scotia through the expansion of one stream within the local Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

This move will make immigration to Nova Scotia a possibility for international students who want to become paramedics and pharmacy technicians.

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Announced jointly by Nova Scotia’s Minister of Health, Michelle Thompson, and the province’s Minister of Advanced Education Brian Wong, this change is taking effect because Nova Scotia is set to expand the “International Graduates in Demand” (IGD) stream of its PNP.

Nova Scotia’s PNP: IGD Stream

PNPs – operated in every Canadian province and territory except Quebec and Nunavut – allow local governments to nominate specific immigration candidates (for permanent residence (PR) in their region) who they feel will best help them address local labour market gaps.

Prior to this latest expansion, international graduates seeking work in the following occupations could immigrate to Nova Scotia through this PNP stream.

Nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates (National Occupation Classification 2021: 33102)

Early childhood educators and assistants (NOC 2021: 42202)

Paramedics (NOC 2021, “Paramedical Occupations”: 32102) and Pharmacy Technicians (NOC 2021: 32124) are now eligible thanks to this announcement.

In order to be eligible for immigration through this stream of Nova Scotia’s PNP, interested candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Possess a full-time permanent job offer from a Nova Scotia employer in an eligible occupation
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 55
  • Have completed at least a high school education
  • Have completed a course of study at least 30 weeks long (in the last three years)*
  • Possess the appropriate certifications required for the job
  • Have official language proficiency that equates to a level 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)
  • Possess enough money to settle permanently in Nova Scotia

*At least half of the qualifying educational program must have been completed in Nova Scotia.

Applying for immigration through the IGD PNP stream

Here are the basic steps to apply for immigration to this province through the IGD stream of its PNP:

  1. Upload the required documents and submit a completed application on the government website
  2. If approved, apply for PR directly with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) within six months of receiving your provincial nomination certificate

Note: Applicants can request a Letter of Support for a temporary work permit from the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration (NSOI), which will allow them to stay in Nova Scotia while their application is being processed.

Paramedics and pharmacy technicians needed in Nova Scotia

The chief executive of Nova Scotia’s Pharmacy Association told CBC that the province will need “about 200 [pharmacy] technicians over the next few years.”

An additional “150 [to] 200 paramedic positions could be available” for international students as well, according to Charbel Daniel, the director of operations for ambulance services provider Emergency Medical Care Inc.

Beyond the two occupations added to the IGD stream of Nova Scotia’s PNP, there is significant demand for employable persons looking to work in many healthcare occupations across Canada.

Other healthcare workers are also in demand

According to employment agency and consulting firm Randstad, these are the top three healthcare careers in demand across Canada for 2023:

  • Registered Nurses (NOC 2021: 31301)
  • Personal Support Workers (NOC 2021: 44101)
  • Healthcare Aides** (NOC 2021: 33102)

**Healthcare Aides are also specifically eligible for immigration to Nova Scotia through the IGD stream, as noted above

According to the Government of Canada, the following represents the expected number of “job openings” for each of the above occupations between 2022 and 2031.

Registered Nurses (155,400)

Personal Support Workers (34,500)

Healthcare Aides (191,000)

The above numbers reinforce the need for more healthcare industry workers across Canada, including in Nova Scotia.

Coming to Canada as a healthcare worker

To attract more healthcare workers, IRCC has begun conducting category-based Express Entry draws. The first of these draws took place on June 28, 2023.

These draws were implemented specifically to attract Canadian immigration candidates who can help address some of the most significant labour market challenges in this country.

For 2023, IRCC is issuing ITAs through category-based draws to eligible and interested candidates who possess recent work experience in one of five different occupational categories. One of this year’s categories is designated for foreign nationals with recent work experience in healthcare professions.

Healthcare category-based draw history

So far this year, Canada has conducted two healthcare category-based Express Entry draws.

The first draw took place on June 28, when 500 candidates were issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian PR. For this draw, candidates with a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of at least 476 were considered.

The second draw for this category took place on July 6. This draw invited 1,500 candidates with a minimum CRS score of 463.

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