- Canada is experiencing a shortage of nurses due to poor mental health and burnout
- Provinces are therefore making changes in international recruitment efforts to close the shortage gap
- For example, the Manitoba government pledged to hire 2,000 more healthcare professionals and spend $200 million on retaining, training, and hiring.
Canada is still in need of more nurses, as the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects are still being felt there and the population is ageing.
According to the most recent data on open positions, the healthcare and social assistance sector had 162,100 open positions as of January 2023, which is a record high.
The federal government and provinces agree that immigration and expedited credential recognition for Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) are critical components of addressing the labour shortage and filling these vacancies.
Even before the pandemic, there was a nurse shortage in Canadian healthcare. The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) reported in 2022 that many nurses were suffering from poor mental health and burnout.
Throughout the pandemic, this resulted in a large number of resignations among healthcare professionals.
Provinces working to attract and retain nurses
Four out of ten nurses are now considering leaving their job, mostly because of high workloads and inadequate staffing levels, according to a poll on March 28. One in two younger, early-career nurses also reported symptoms of clinical burnout.
Now provinces are working to lower some of the obstacles that IENs might encounter once they enter Canada and draw more foreign nurses to Canada.
The Canadian provinces are making significant efforts to recruit and retain more nurses in response to this challenge.
Here is how come provinces are making efforts to recruit nurses to fill the shortage.
Alberta declared in February that it would spend more than $15 million to support and train more IENs. The funding includes $7.8 million for students to receive bursaries worth up to $30,000.
With the remaining funds, three universities in Alberta will add 600 new seats for nurse bridging programs.
Recent changes to the nurse-to-patient ratio in British Columbia will vary depending on the type of care provided. For instance, there will be a 1:1 ratio between an ICU nurse and a ventilated patient.
In order to guarantee that patients receive the necessary care and that nurses are not overworked.
In November 2022, Manitoba unveiled its Health Human Resource Action Plan. The government also pledged to hire 2,000 more healthcare professionals, spend $200 million on retaining, training, and hiring healthcare professionals across the province, and do away with mandatory overtime.
A $10,000 recognition bonus for nurses in the province was announced by Tim Houston, the premier of Nova Scotia, on March 20. By the end of March 2024, those who agree to a two-year return of service agreement will be entitled to an extra $10,000 the following year.
The Ontario Ministry of Health, the College of Nurses in Ontario, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario implemented a number of changes in October 2022, including:
- Allowing nurses with international training to register in a temporary class and start working sooner while they pursue full registration;
- Making it simpler for retired or non-practising nurses to return to the field by introducing flexibility to the requirement that they need to have clinical experience;
- Making it easier for physicians from other provinces and territories to work for up to 90 days in Ontario by establishing a new temporary independent practice registration class.
On January 1st this year, additional changes also became effective. New regulations were made such as:
- Require health regulatory colleges to adhere to deadlines when making registration decisions;
- Prevent health regulatory colleges from requiring Canadian work experience for registration, with some exceptions like when equivalent international experience is accepted; and
- Accept-language tests approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to decrease redundant language proficiency testing for immigrants to Canada.
How to come to Canada as a nurse
There are several specifically tailored for healthcare professionals.
Nurses may be eligible for Express Entry programs like the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class.
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is another popular pathway for nurses. The PNP allows provinces to select skilled, immigration candidates who they feel will have the best chance of becoming economically established within a province and able to fill gaps in the provincial labour force.
Here are some examples of PNP streams nurses can use: