June 18, 2024

Stream Health Care

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Canada announces new immigration stream for health workers

3 min read

Like many countries worldwide, Canada is currently facing an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers in several key sectors, particularly in the healthcare sector. To help overcome this challenge, Canada is set to launch a new immigration stream specific to health workers, with the aim of doubling the number of healthcare professionals it welcomes each year.

Last month, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced new changes to Canada’s Express Entry immigration program to allow the government to issue invitations to apply for permanent residency to candidates from particular fields or with specific skills, training or language ability.

On 28 June, Minister Fraser and the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced 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 yesterday, inviting 500 health workers to apply. A second round will take place on 5 July, inviting 1,500 workers to apply.

Announcing the move, Minister Fraser said: “Health professionals have been working around the clock to provide world-class care to individuals in communities across Canada, but it’s no secret that our health system needs more workers to continue delivering the quality care that people in Canada deserve. I’m excited to be here today with my colleague, Minister Duclos, to announce the first health care category-based selection round, which will increase access to permanent residence for skilled workers with health care experience. We look forward to welcoming many health professionals to our country.”

Currently, immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labour force growth, helping to address labour shortages in key sectors. For this reason, the government is now focusing its immigration growth goals on five key sectors facing labour shortages: health, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions, agriculture, transportation and skilled trades. But healthcare will be the first sector to benefit from this new process, with the aim of admitting around 8,000 new healthcare workers per year.

What is Canada’s Express Entry program?

Express Entry is an online system that the Canadian government uses to manage immigration applications from skilled workers.

It is a points-based pathway to permanent residency for those seeking entry under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program.

Express Entry grants entry to the candidate with the highest points, regardless of what profession they are in. However, the new process announced by Fraser will offer a ‘streamlined and efficient’ path for people in key sectors.

Immigration backlogs

Minister Fraser admitted that the changes will need to be accompanied by faster visa processing times. Processing times for Canadian visas have been impacted by several factors recently, including the pandemic and the refugee crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Despite assurance that the government is taking steps to improve processing times, backlogs in processing immigration applications rose last month, with officials saying more kinds of applications are being tallied even as the department gets better at handling claims within the target timeframes.

If Canada wishes to reach its goal of doubling the number of new healthcare workers it admits into the country, it must first address the backlog of immigration applications still awaiting a decision.

Working in Canada

If you want to work in Canada and require advice with the immigration process, Smith Stone Walters can help. Our global immigration team can assess your eligibility for the various streams available, and provide support with your application. To find out more, please contact us today.

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