Canada is known for its strong healthcare system, and a recent report by Statistics Canada sheds light on the contributions of internationally educated healthcare professionals (IEHPs) to the industry. The report reveals that 58% of IEHPs in Canada who trained to become nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and dentists are working in their field of study.
Out of the 259,694 IEHPs in Canada, 76% are employed, although this percentage is slightly lower compared to Canadian-educated healthcare professionals at 80%. It is important to note that this data includes IEHPs who are not working in a healthcare occupation.
Immigrants account for a quarter of healthcare sector workers in Canada, a number that is expected to rise in the coming years. This increase is attributed to the fact that 500,000 healthcare workers in the country are older than 55 and will be retiring within the next decade.
The report also reveals interesting insights about the demographics and settlement patterns of IEHPs in Canada. Half of IEHPs immigrated to Canada between the ages of 25 and 34, which means they arrived during their core working years. Additionally, almost one-third of all IEHPs arrived in Canada between 2016 and 2021, indicating a recent influx of healthcare professionals. Overall, two-thirds of IEHPs in Canada are younger than 50 years old. Furthermore, the majority of IEHPs in Canada are women, accounting for 7 out of 10 professionals in this field.
When it comes to settlement patterns, Ontario has the highest number of IEHPs, with 116,310 professionals living in the province. British Columbia and Alberta follow closely behind with 45,235 and 42,035 IEHPs respectively. On the other hand, Canada’s northern territories and the Atlantic provinces have the lowest numbers of IEHPs. Prince Edward Island has the fewest at 475, while the three territories have a total of 605 IEHPs. Nova Scotia has 3,195 IEHPs, indicating a higher concentration in this province compared to the territories and Prince Edward Island.
In terms of education, the study reveals that the majority of IEHPs in Canada received their education in Asia, accounting for 63%. Furthermore, 11% of IEHPs studied in English-speaking Western countries. Manitoba has the highest proportion of Asian-educated IEHPs at 75%, while New Brunswick has 21% of IEHPs who studied in an English-speaking Western country.
The report also sheds light on the specific occupations pursued by IEHPs in Canada. One-third of IEHPs studied nursing, with registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses making up the largest portion at 34%. Other occupations pursued by IEHPs include nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates (21%), licensed practical nurses (8%), light duty cleaners (2%), and social and community service workers (2%). Notably, over half of the IEHPs in Prince Edward Island studied nursing.
IEHPs trained as physicians make up 15% of all IEHPs in Canada, with a significant concentration in Newfoundland and Labrador. This province also has the highest overall proportion of IEHPs employed in health occupations, with 74% of IEHPs in the province working in their field. Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan also have high employment rates for IEHPs in healthcare occupations, with over 65% employed in these fields. However, in the rest of Canada, only 46% of IEHPs are employed in health occupations.
The report highlights the ongoing labor shortage in the healthcare sector. According to the latest job vacancy data from Statistics Canada, there were 147,100 job vacancies in June of this year. The presence of a large number of IEHPs residing in Canada suggests that these newcomers could help address the labor shortages in the health workforce.
One of the main challenges faced by IEHPs is the difficulty in obtaining licenses in regulated professions in Canada. Each province has different requirements for healthcare professionals, making it challenging for IEHPs to navigate the system. However, steps are being taken to remove obstacles for IEHPs. For example, Nova Scotia now offers an expedited pathway for international nurses who hold current licenses from specific countries. Ontario has also introduced legislation to expedite registration decisions and eliminate the requirement of Canadian work experience for registration.
In response to the labor shortage, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has created six new Express Entry categories that prioritize healthcare professionals. These categories select eligible candidates based more on their occupation than their comprehensive ranking system (CRS) score. In 2023, 2,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) have already been issued to healthcare professionals.
Furthermore, in October 2022, IRCC made it possible for physicians already practicing in Canada as temporary residents to become eligible to apply for Express Entry. This change is significant as it allows physicians to pursue permanent residency, which was not possible before.
The report by Statistics Canada provides valuable insights into the employment, demographics, settlement patterns, and challenges faced by internationally educated healthcare professionals in Canada. It highlights the importance of recognizing and utilizing the skills and qualifications of these professionals to address the labor shortages in the healthcare sector. By implementing measures to support the integration and licensure of IEHPs, Canada can benefit from their expertise and contribute to a stronger healthcare system for all Canadians.