The Conference Board of Canada, in a recent study, raises concerns that an ageing population in Canada could cause a potential shortage of tens of thousands of nurses in the near future. The demographics are compelling.
Recent statistics confirm that seniors over age 65 now outnumber children for the first time ever, leading to a projected shortage of 60,000 nurses by 2022. Policy planners must begin to develop programs calling for the investment in nursing bridging and training programs.
For each dollar invested by Ottawa and provincial governments in helping registered nurses become licensed in Canada, there is a return of $9 in future income tax revenue – a nine-fold return. This excludes direct contributions in investment for the care of the country’s rapidly aging population. Canada stands to benefit immensely by investing in the internationally educated nursing industry. Efforts are also needed in to improve the process of foreign credential recognition in the nursing industry.
More than half of immigrants to Canada with health professional backgrounds incur difficulty in having their foreign credentials recognized in Canada. The figure is just 40 per cent in other regulated professions.
There are 35 career-bridging programs available for foreign-trained nurses, 12 based in Ontario. Researchers, in conducting a cost-benefit analysis based on government funding, found that it costs taxpayers $11,270 to help a foreign-trained nurse become registered in Ontario as an RN or RPN. It typically costs about $13,441 with complex cases costing as high as $30,400.
The investment cost appears high. But the benefits appear to far outweigh these costs, as Canada stands to receive an additional $9,135 in income tax revenue from each Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) who becomes RN registered and $4,522 for each one who becomes RPN registered.
Investing in the future of our health care by helping nurses overcome credential recognition challenges is a logical consideration.