Canada announces new immigration stream specific to health workers

June 28, 2023—Bedford, Nova Scotia—Communities across Canada need health workers. The health field is one of several key sectors of Canada’s labour force which is facing unprecedented shortages. To help respond to this challenge, last month, Minister Fraser announced new changes to Canada’s flagship economic immigration program, Express Entry. Now the Government of Canada can issue invitations to apply for permanent residency in Canada to candidates from particular fields or with specific skills, training or language ability.

Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced the use of these new features for a dedicated round of invitations to be sent to health workers, including doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists and optometrists. The first round for category-based selection will open today and will invite 500 health workers to apply. A second round, inviting 1,500 workers to apply, will take place on July 5. This phased approach will ensure the smooth launch of the program.

By focusing on candidates with health care expertise and by bringing in the talent the country needs, this measure will help improve access to health care services for Canadians and their families. Additionally, the first-ever category-based selection rounds support Canada’s commitment to welcoming in-demand professionals and skilled workers into communities across the country. Alongside general invitation rounds, these category-based selection rounds will continue throughout the year, and more details will continue to be announced in the coming weeks.

A dedicated round of invitations for health workers is in addition to existing immigration initiatives to fill labour gaps in the health sector.

  • The Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot, for which two new streams were announced a few weeks ago, creates opportunities for skilled refugees and other displaced individuals to use their education, training and experience to continue their careers in Canada. To date, this pilot has seen the greatest uptake in the health care sector with over 50% of the applications received being for candidates working as nurses’ aides, orderlies, and patient service associates. 
  • In April, changes were made to Express Entry to facilitate the issuance of permanent resident visas for physicians providing publicly funded medical services in Canada.
  • In December, the Government of Canada announced $90 million will be invested in projects to help remove barriers preventing qualified and skilled newcomers from gaining work experience in their own profession or field of study.
  • Between 2017 and 2022, 21,656 skilled newcomers arrived in Canada to work in health occupations.

Today’s announcement advances Canada’s efforts to retain and recruit health workers to address the health workforce crisis. Supporting a sustainable health workforce is one of the shared health priorities agreed to by the Government of Canada and provinces and territories, outlined in the Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians Plan. This plan is supported through a Budget 2023 commitment of close to $200 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding to provinces and territories, to improve health care services for Canadians. As part of these agreements, provinces and territories are also being asked to streamline foreign credential recognition for internationally educated health professionals, and to advance labour mobility, starting with multi-jurisdictional credential recognition for key health professionals. 

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