The lack of foreign credential recognition affects immigrant integration into the health-care sector, making it even more difficult to address labour shortages.
Despite increased demand due to COVID-19, Canada is still short thousands of health-care workers.
Vacancies reached an all-time high in the Canadian health-care and social assistance sector. By the end of 2020 there were 100,300 vacant positions in these sectors, according to a study by Statistics Canada. Labour shortages in health care have been a long-standing issue that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Challenges to fill vacancies may grow in the coming decades as the majority of Canada’s labour force ages into retirement. Furthering these demographic challenges, Canada’s already low birth rate may have dropped due to the pandemic. While complete national data are still not in, the province of British Columbia alone reported fewer births in 2020 compared to 2019, and preliminary data show a drop to just 1,781 new babies in May. For context, not one month dipped below 3,000 B.C. newborns in 2020 or 2019.
The results of this could mean that without high levels of immigration to support population growth.
Canadian credentials put on a pedestal
Many immigrants who work in nursing or health-care support occupations did not come to Canada intending to work in the field.
A large proportion of immigrants in nursing and health-care support occupations had transitioned into these jobs after having difficulty finding work. They typically would go back to school. After completing their studies, they would find it less of an issue to integrate into the sector because their Canadian credentials were suddenly recognized.
Those who received their formal training abroad often found it difficult to break into the health-care sector, because their credentials were not recognized.