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Foreign health care workers

Canada highlights importance of immigrants to health-care system

This #NationalNursingWeek Canada proudly highlights the importance of immigrants in health-care system and why #ImmigrationMatters to Canada’s health-care system. Immigrants make up 23% of registered nurses and 35% of nurse aides. This week Canada says again thank you to all the nurses who go above and beyond for us every day.

Almost 500,000 workers in the health-care sector are over the age of 55, with most retiring in the next decade. Canada is looking to immigrants to help fill these important jobs.

Immigration matters to Canada health care

The sustainability and effectiveness of the Canadian health care system depend on an integrated and diverse workforce. We value the important contribution of immigrants to our health care system and welcome them to Canada!

Claire Betker, RN, MN, PhD, CCHN(C), President of the Canadian Nurses Association

More than 1.6 million people work in Canada’s health-care sector and many more will be needed in the coming years to ensure continued access to high quality care.

In addition, there are existing recruitment challenges from everywhere in Canada for nurses, residential care staff and home health-care staff.

See also Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) can qualify to work in Canada – Guidelines

There’s a clear opportunity for immigrants to play an important role in ensuring there are enough people working in the health-care sector.

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.

immigrants in health-care

Impact of immigration on Canada health-care sector

  • Immigrants account for 1 out of every 4 health-care sector workers.
  • In Canada, immigrants make up 37% of pharmacists, 36% of physicians, 39% of dentists, 23% of registered nurses, and 35% of nurse aides and related occupations.
  • More than 40% of newcomers to Canada between 2011 and 2016 who were working in the health-care sector were employed in the important areas of nursing and residential care facilities, as well as home health-care services.
  • Registered nurses: 23%
  • Nurse aides, orderlies, and related: 35%
  • Pharmacists: 37%
  • Physicians: 36%
  • Dentists: 39%
  • Dental technologists and related: 54%

All statistics are from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

Percentage of immigrants in Canada’s health-care occupations

immigrants in health-care

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.