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canada health-care immigrant workers

Canada aims to fill health-care workers retirements with immigrants

In a recent infographic, Immigration Matters to Canada’s health-care sector, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) projected significant future shortages in Canada’s health-care sector. Almost 500,000 workers are 55 years old or over, with many retiring in the next decade. Canada is looking to immigrants to help fill these important jobs. The coronavirus pandemic continues to underscore the importance of immigrants to Canada’s economy and their essentiality to recovery from the pandemic-related economic downturn.

canada health-care immigrant workers

In the infographic IRCC noted that immigrants make up 1 out of 4 health-care workers in Canada, including:

  • 36% of general practitioners
  • 27% of licensed practical nurses
  • 36% of pharmacists
canada health-care immigrant workers

Out of the total Canada health-care immigrant workers between 2011 and 2016, some 40% were employed in residential care facilities, nursing or home health-care services. These facilities have experienced some of the worst outbreaks and fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, in recognition of the unique sacrifices that Canada health-care immigrant workers have made and continue to make on the frontline, Canada recently announced a temporary measure that will provide a pathway to permanent residency for healthcare frontline asylum claimants (asylum claimants working in the health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic).

canada health-care immigrant workers


“The government recognizes the extraordinary contribution of asylum claimants working in Canada’s health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in long-term care centres. As these individuals face an uncertain future in Canada, the current circumstances merit exceptional measures in recognition of their service during the pandemic.”

—The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Under the temporary measure, healthcare frontline asylum claimants, that is asylum claimants across the country who are working on the frontlines providing direct care to patients in health-care institutions will be able to apply for permanent residency if they meet the criteria. This approach recognizes those with precarious immigration status who are filling an urgent need and putting their own lives at risk to care for others in Canada.

In recent years, Canada has changed the ratio of different kinds of immigrants to focus more on the economic category. According to the 2016 Census, among recent immigrants admitted to Canada between 2011 and 2016, approximately 6 in 10 were admitted under the economic category, nearly 3 in 10 were admitted under the family class, and approximately 1 in 10 were admitted to Canada as refugees.

canada health-care immigrant workers

How are immigrants selected?

IRCC follows a plan for immigration that helps distribute the benefits of immigration across the country. IRCC selects immigrants for their economic contribution, for their humanitarian needs and to reunite families.

Every year, IRCC sets targets for the number of immigrants it will allow into the country for each immigration category. See for example Canada aims for 1.2 million permanent residents in 2021 to 2023. The process gives the public, provinces and territories, businesses and organizations that help immigrants settle in Canada an opportunity to let IRCC know what they think about the targets before they are finalized. Provinces and territories select a growing number of immigrants in the economic category, as well. 

Through the economic immigration category, skilled immigrants who are able to settle in Canada and contribute to our economy are selected via the federal Express Entry system – a sophisticated points system that predicts how immigrants will do in Canada.

All the following details are considered in the points system:

  • language skills
  • education
  • work experience
  • a valid job offer
  • a nomination from a province or territory

Only candidates with the highest scores are sent invitations to apply to immigrate.

Success is sustained through settlement services.

Canada wants newcomers to succeed and add value to its culture and society. That’s why the government funds services to help immigrants settle in their communities. There are more than 500 settlement service organizations across Canada. They help all newcomers

  • learn about life in Canada and their community
  • get language training
  • find work
  • make connections with established immigrants and Canadians

Settlement services help newcomers adapt to life in Canada and put them on the path to eventually becoming Canadian citizens. See IRCC Settlement Services.