Canada is Seeking Nurses to Overcome Labour Shortage
Recent changes to the Quebec Skilled Worker Program have made it easier for foreign-trained nurses to qualify for Canadian immigration. Unlike other Canadian immigration programs, the Quebec Skilled Worker Program does not require applicants to have a Canadian job offer in order to qualify.
Nurses are currently in high demand throughout Canada. The Canadian Nurses Association recently predicted Canada will require an additional 60,000 nurses by 2022, in order to offset labour shortages. As such, the province of Quebec is proactively ensuring the deficit is addressed by making it easier for nurses to immigrate to Quebec through its skilled worker program. Demand for nurses in Quebec, and the rest of Canada, can be attributed to an aging population and their subsequent need for healthcare services. Quebec’s healthcare system is rapidly expanding, particularly in Montreal where two large hospitals are currently being constructed and set to open in 2015 and 2016. One of those hospitals, the McGill University Health Centre, will “house one of the most advanced research centres on the continent”, according to McGill University.
The Quebec Skilled Worker Program is an economic-class immigration program, designed to fill gaps in Quebec’s labour market. Applicants to the Quebec Skilled Worker Program are assessed against a points-based system, whereby candidates are awarded selection points based on a number of factors including age, ability to speak french, level of education and area of training. In an attempt to streamline more nurses to Quebec, the Quebec Skilled Worker Program now awards additional points to applicants with formal training in nursing.
The ability to speak French has always been a significant selection factor within Quebec immigration, and is often required to earn enough points to qualify. However, the additional points awarded to nurses with formal training can often enable qualification, despite not being capable in the French language.
Nurses in Quebec can expect to earn a salary of roughly CAD $50,000-$60,000 per year. However, nurses can earn much more by working in regions where demand is very high, by working overtime or by being promoted into management positions. The average salary for nurses is much higher in some of the other Canadian provinces, such as Ontario where the average nurses salary is $80,000 annually.
Once selected for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, applicants will be issued a Quebec Selection Certificate, which they must then submit to the federal government to apply for Canadian permanent residency. Once an applicant receives Canadian permanent resident status, he or she may work and live anywhere in Canada, just as Canadian citizens do. Although permanent residents have the right to live and work anywhere in Canada, it should be noted that Quebec Skilled Worker applicants are expected to have a genuine intention to live and work in the province of Quebec at the time of application.
It is worth noting that nursing is a provincially regulated profession in Canada; each province has different procedures and requirements for those who wish to become licensed to work as a nurse. As such, those who successfully immigrate to Quebec will not be able to work as a fully licensed nurse until they meet all requirements established by the nursing regulatory body in Quebec, known as OIIQ (Ordre des Infirmières et Infirmiers du Québec). Such requirements include, but are not limited to, obtaining a recognition of equivalence, writing a professional nursing exam, as well as passing a French language test to demonstrate the required level of French necessary to work as a nurse in Quebec.
Knowledge of French is generally required for all regulated professions in Quebec, however, it is possible for the OIIQ to grant a special permit that exempts nurses from the French requirement for a duration of 12 months. Nurses must meet all other requirements before such a permit will be granted. The exemption permit can be renewed three times, allowing the holder of the permit to work in Quebec for up to 4 years without having the requisite French language capability. Although the permit exists as an option, there is no guarantee that the OIIQ will grant such a permit, or that it will be renewed once it expires. It is therefore important that nurses immigrating to Quebec intend to learn the appropriate level of French, as required by the profession.
Although foreign trained nurses in Quebec cannot work as a licensed nurse until they meet all OIIQ prerequisites, they may work under a temporary status once they have obtained their recognition of equivalence and “Attestation of practice as a candidate for the profession of nursing”. This temporary status is referred to as a CPN (Candidate for the Profession of Nursing), and comes with specific conditions such as requiring the CPN to work under the supervision of a licensed nurse. CPNs are not required to demonstrate French language proficiency in order to obtain this temporary status.
Nurses interested in immigrating to Canada under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program should act quickly, as immigration authorities place a limit on the number of applications accepted annually.
For a free consultation with a Canadian immigration lawyer, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America @ 1 (855) 360-4333 or 1 (514) 360-4333 internationally.