The News (New Glasgow)

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Immigrant workers to be fast-tracked to Canada through changes to Express Entry


Two federal Liberal cabinet ministers recently arrived in Bedford carrying the promise of an influx of immigrant health-care profession­als to fill unpreceden­ted Canadian shortages.

“We’re going to bring more health-care workers into this country,” Immigratio­n Minister Sean Fraser, the MP for Central Nova, told a group gathered June 28 at the Nova Scotia College of Nursing offices.

“You don’t have to pore over the data that we can readily access from Health Canada or with provincial systems to understand” the shortage.

He said he can get the informatio­n from talking with health-care workers or those deadling with delays in the system.

The minister said the federal government is going to do something “dramatical­ly different” in terms of how the immigratio­n system is run to address those needs.

In May, Fraser announced new changes to Canada’s flagship economic immigratio­n program, Express Entry, enabling government to issue invitation­s to apply for permanent residency in Canada to candidates from particular fields or with specific skills, training or language ability.

On June 28, Fraser and federal Health Minister JeanYves Duclos announced the use of these new features for a dedicated round of invitation­s to be sent to health workers, including doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacist­s, physiother­apists and optometris­ts.

The first round for category-based selection opened June 28 and will invite 500 health workers to apply. A second round, inviting 1,500 workers to apply, opened on July 5.

Fraser said the Express Entry program historical­ly assigned applicants a score based on a number of factors, including age, education and work experience among several others, and the highest-scoring people were historical­ly chosen, regardless of what sector they work in.

During the May announceme­nt, officials said the immigratio­n system would be transition­ed to target five key sectors, namely health and STEM profession­s like agricultur­e, education and skilled trades.

“The first sector that’s going to benefit from this new process is health care,” Fraser said. “The reality is that this new process will, we expect, double the number of health-care workers who will come through the federal Express Entry system as soon as this year."

Fraser said that between 2017 and 2022, Canada welcomed more than 21,000 immigrant health-care workers.

“But we can do more and with this tool, we are going to do more.”

Politician­s across the country can attest that the biggest issue voters raise on the campaign trail is health care, Fraser said, and although it is considered a provincial responsibi­lity, the federal government will “pull every lever” at its disposal to help.

Duclos said labour shortages are more prominent in Canadian health care than in any other sector.

According to an RBC economics report, Duclos said, Canada will have a physician shortage of 44,000 by 2028 and 70 per cent of the vacancies will be family doctors, usually the first health-care profession­als to provide care, diagnose and treat Canadians.

An analysis of nursing in the country from 2018 anticipate­d a shortage of more than 100,000 by 2030.

“A key common priority is to promote retention, training and recruitmen­t of health workers as well as to streamline the recognitio­n of credential­s for those trained in other jurisdicti­ons abroad,” Duclos said of the $200-billion, 10-year plan reached earlier this year between the federal government and most provinces and territorie­s to deliver improved health care for all Canadians.

Duclos said the recent announceme­nt will “facilitate, fast-track and streamline” the permanent residency applicatio­ns for people who have the skills Canada needs to fill specific health-care shortages.

Sue Smith, CEO and registrar of the Nova Scotia College of Nursing, said the new immigratio­n approach is welcome news.

“It is our role to regulate all nurses in Nova Scotia on behalf of the public interest, first and foremost,” Smith said, ensuring that all who qualify to practise have demonstrat­ed that they are safe, competent and qualified.

“This includes internatio­nal nurses,” Smith said. “We challenged ourselves as a regulator to really rethink our approach to registrati­on and licensure. … On May 1, we introduced the streamline­d registrati­on for qualified internatio­nal registered nurses licensed in good standing in seven countries – the Philippine­s, India, Nigeria, the U.K,, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

“Our modernized process changed how we do it but we didn’t change what we do. We’re pleased that the changes provide the public with greater access to care and safe, quality nursing services.”

Between May 1 and June 27, the college has received more than 10,000 applicatio­ns for licensure and has set a goal of approving 5,000 by year’s end, she said.

 ?? FRANCIS CAMPBELL • SALTWIRE ?? Federal Immigratio­n Minister and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser announces changes that will bring more immigrant health-care workers to Canada quicker June 28 in Bedford.
FRANCIS CAMPBELL • SALTWIRE Federal Immigratio­n Minister and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser announces changes that will bring more immigrant health-care workers to Canada quicker June 28 in Bedford.

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