International Nurses Day: Canada’s provinces offering more incentives to immigrant nurses

May 12 is celebrated as International Nurses Day in Canada, to recognize the contribution of nurses to healthcare services.

Canada is facing a severe shortage of nurses, with 162,100 vacancies recorded in the healthcare and social assistance sector in January 2023. To bridge the gap, provinces are working to hire and retain more nurses, especially from abroad, and eliminate barriers that may prevent internationally educated nurses (IENs) from practicing in Canada.

Several provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, are offering various incentives to attract and retain nurses.

Alberta is investing $15 million to train and support more IENs and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippines to streamline the recruitment process.

British Columbia has introduced a new nurse-to-patient ratio and is covering application and assessment fees for IENs.

Manitoba has launched its Health Human Resource Action Plan, committing to adding 2,000 healthcare providers and investing $200 million to retain, train, and recruit healthcare staff.

Nova Scotia is offering a $10,000 recognition bonus and has made 154 conditional offers for healthcare workers on international recruitment trips.

Ontario has introduced several changes, including allowing internationally educated nurses to register in a temporary class and begin working sooner while they work towards full registration.

Nurses can come to Canada through several economic immigration programs, including the Express Entry programs, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and various PNP streams like Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream, British Columbia’s Healthcare Professional category, Saskatchewan’s International Health Worker EOI pool, and New Brunswick’s Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) program.