Internationally-Trained Nurses And Other Healthcare Workers Eagerly Recruited By Canada

Immigration to Canada by internationally-trained nurses, orderlies and other healthcare workers boomed last year as healthcare authorities recruited abroad to resolve a serious labour shortage.

Through the Express Entry system, the number of new permanent residents who came to fill healthcare openings jumped by 28.1 per cent last year, to 2,595, compared to 2,025 the previous year, the latest data reveals.

Under Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system of categorizing occupations, these include the following job titles and occupational codes:

  • nurse aide or orderly – (NOC) 33102
  • medical chemist – (NOC) 21101
  • medical archivist – (NOC) 12111
  • medical examiner – (NOC) 41310
  • medical secretary – (NOC) 13112
  • medical biochemist – (NOC) 21101
  • medical physicist – (NOC) 21100
  • health care assistant – (NOC) 33102
  • medical laboratory assistants and related technical occupations – (NOC) 33101
  • other assisting occupations in support of health services – (NOC) 33109

Ottawa has recognized that demand is still very high this year for these highly-skilled workers and so last year the Canadian immigration department included nurse aides and orderlies among the workers who can immigrate to Canada under the Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program.

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The change to the FSW which made that possible came on Nov. 16 when IRCC added 16 new jobs to its list of eligible occupations under that worker immigration program. That increased the number of eligible occupations under the FSW on the same day the (NOC) 2021 came into effect at the IRCC to 359.

The full list of newly-added jobs on the list of eligible occupations under the FSW includes:

  • payroll administrators – (NOC) 13102
  • dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants – (NOC) 33100
  • nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates – (NOC) 33102
  • pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants – (NOC) 33103
  • elementary and secondary school teacher assistants – (NOC) 43100
  • sheriffs and bailiffs – (NOC) 43200
  • correctional service officers – (NOC) 43201
  • by-law enforcement and other regulatory officers – (NOC) 43202
  • estheticians, electrologists and related occupations –  (NOC) 63211
  • residential and commercial installers and servicers – (NOC) 73200
  • pest controllers and fumigators – (NOC) 73202
  • other repairers and servicers (NOC) 73209
  • transport truck drivers – (NOC) 73300
  • bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators – (NOC) 73301
  • heavy equipment operators –  (NOC) 73400
  • aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors –  (NOC) 93200

Healthcare worker can also immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system’s Canadian Experience Class program.

Provinces And Territories Can Recruit Healthcare Workers Through Provincial Nominee Programs

Through their Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), provinces and territories can also nominate healthcare workers for permanent residence if they meet particular regional labour market needs and intend to settle in that province or territory. Provinces can recruit candidates from the Express Entry pool or they can nominate individuals under their non-Express Entry paper-based streams.

Nurse aides and orderlies are the lifeblood of any hospital or nursing home as they are the people who help nurses, physicians and other hospital staff in the basic care of patients. In Canada, they earn a median annual income of $40,950 based on a standard, 37.5-hour work week, according to data from the Job Bank federal job-hunting and career-planning website.

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That same website ranks the job prospects for nurses and orderlies as “good” or “very good” throughout the country until at least 2031 with 21,000 more jobs opening up than there will be people in Canada to fill them. 

“For nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates and other assisting occupations in support of health services, over the period 2022-2031, new job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) are expected to total 191,000 , while 170,100 new job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) are expected to be available to fill them,” notes the Job Bank website.

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The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) called on Ottawa last year to prioritize human resources in the healthcare sector and help address nursing shortages across the country.

“We are seeing patients in Canada facing longer and longer wait times for medical and surgical procedures, while also facing increasing challenges to access the care they need,” said Sylvain Brousseau, president of CAN, last year.

“Just over these past few weeks, we have witnessed many stories of emergency departments shutting down or reducing their hours of operation in many parts of the country. The reason for this crisis is very clear: Canada is facing a severe health workforce crisis and nursing shortages.”

The nurses’ association went so far as to state the sustainability of Canada’s healthcare system could not be maintained without further investment in the healthcare workforce.

Immigration Minister To Use All Tools To Tackle Canada’s Labour Shortages

By making these occupations eligible under the FSW, Ottawa is attempting to plug that hole in the country’s healthcare system.

“We are using all of the tools at our disposal to tackle labour shortages, particularly in key sectors like healthcare, construction, and transportation,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

“These changes will support Canadians in need of these services and they will support employers by providing them with a more robust workforce who we can depend on to drive our economy forward into a prosperous future. I’m thrilled to announce expanded pathways to permanent residence in Canada for these in-demand workers.”

Foreign nationals hoping to apply for permanent residence through the FSW must have one year of paid work experience within the last decade in jobs categorized as TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 of the (NOC) 2021 system.

Applicants under this program must also take a language test to prove that they possess sufficient language skills to successfully establish themselves in Canada. Language tests evaluate an applicant’s abilities with regards to:

  • listening
  • speaking
  • reading
  • writing

In order to be eligible for the FSW, an applicant needs to obtain at least the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 7 in all categories and show that he or she has enough money to support him or herself and any relatives upon arrival in Canada.


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