Fast-tracked immigration applications open to health-care workers


Joanah Eloisa Sigue grew up in the slums of the Philippines and always dreamed of a better life. Sigue studied nursing, graduated at the top of her class and set her eyes on Canada. But paperwork and processing slowed her down.


“It was a waiting game to get here because I have to be approved by the college of nurses,” said Sigue, who is a registered nurse.


That was more than a decade ago. Sigue has been in Nova Scotia working as an RN for 13 years.


The process of licensing nurses has picked-up pace since May. That’s when Nova Scotia’s College of Nursing started to fast-track licenses for nurses trained in the Philippines and six other countries.


A day after the federal government launched a streamlined immigration process for experts in science and technology, it’s now doing the same for healthcare workers.


“Today we’re going to be issuing 500 applications across Canada to apply and within about a week there will 1,500 more,” said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser.


Healthcare workers are one of several categories of labourers Canada is seeking to prioritize and fast-track as part of its Express Entry program. The aim is to also bring in people who work in trades, agriculture and transport.


Fraser expects the change to double the number of international health-care workers that come to Canada through Ottawa’s Express Entry Program by the end of the year from just under 4,000 to about 8,000.


“I can tell you that in no sector is the labour shortage more prominent than in the health-care sector,” said Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos.


The health minister cited statistics from an RBC report that estimates Canada will be short 44,000 physicians by 2028. He also noted an analysis conducted in 2018 that anticipated a shortage of 100,000 nurses by the year 2030.


“And that was before the pandemic,” Duclos said. “We’re opening the door to welcome more of these in-demand qualified health workers. From personal support workers, to orderlies to nurses and so many more.”


Sigue said the pandemic put nurses under a lot of pressure and this announcement offers hope.


“We’re in dire need of staff that would be helpful, especially for me because we work in long-term care and we all know that for a fact Nova Scotia is an aging population,” Sigue said.


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