Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the recruitment and retention of healthcare workers from other countries a top priority for Canada’s immigration minister Friday.
In a mandate letter to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino, the Canadian prime minister described the COVID-19 pandemic as the most serious public health crisis the country has ever faced. “The global pandemic has had devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods and exposed fundamental gaps in our society,” wrote Trudeau. “Challenges that existed before the pandemic remain and others have been exacerbated.”
Immigrants Working in Healthcare To Have More Paths To Permanent Residency
Ottawa is planning to beef up its programs to help immigrants working in the healthcare fields get their permanent residence to deal with the pandemic.
The Canadian prime minister charged his immigration minister in his Jan. 15 mandate letter with continuing to implement measures to create pathways to permanent residency for those who have provided healthcare in long-term care homes or medical facilities or performed other essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ottawa’s move to making things easier for immigrants with healthcare qualifications comes in the wake of some of Canada’s provincial governments leveraging their Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) to beef up their healthcare sectors.
Prince Edward Island’s use of its PNP last spring to issue invitations to essential workers in the healthcare and trucking industries is just one example of that trend. Nova Scotia did much the same, conducting new draws aimed at nurses through its Express Entry-linked Labour Market Priorities stream in May.
The prime minister’s commitment to bringing in healthcare workers will undoubtedly be good news for provinces struggling to get enough physicians.
In April last year, Nova Scotia appealed to the federal government for help bringing in international physicians amid restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus. At that time, the province’s health authority had 13 doctors from the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa whose arrivals had been affected by Canada’s travel restrictions.
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With his latest mandate letter to the immigration minister, Trudeau is also urging him to work closely with his ministers of public safety and health to ensure the safety of Canadians through safe, responsible and compassionate management of Canada’s border with the United States and other ports of entry.
Immigration Seen As Key Strategy To Boost Economy
“Even as we continue to distribute vaccines across Canada, bold action continues to be required to fight this pandemic, save lives, support people and businesses throughout the remainder of this crisis and build back better,” wrote Trudeau.
“We need to work together to protect and create jobs, and to rebuild our country in a way that will create long-term competitiveness through clean growth.”
Ottawa is deeply committed to boosting immigration to Canada as part of its strategy to help the country’s economy recover from the economic hit of COVID-19 public health restrictions.
The federal government wants to welcome more than 1.2 million newcomers between 2021 and 2023.
There are to be 401,000 new permanent residents to Canada this year, 411,000 next year, and 421,000 in 2023.
“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has said. “Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes and helping us to keep food on the table.
“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves,” he said. “Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”
Economic Immigration, Family Reunification Top Priorities
In adding to the Canadian immigration minister’s mandate, Trudeau drew on his government’s priorities which were outlined in last year’s speech from the throne and last autumn’s economic statement.
The immigration minister was charged last week with continuing to bring newcomers to Canada to drive economic growth and recovery by:
- Expanding pilot programming to welcome skilled refugees through economic immigration streams;
- Supporting expedited family reunification, and;
- Working on sectorial and regional pilot programs.
The prime minister also wants the immigration department to continue exploring pathways to permanent residency and citizenship for temporary foreign workers.
Agrifood Workers To Be Given More Protection
Among the specific industry sectors, Trudeau is eager to protect Canadian farmers and the country’s access to adequate food supplies.
In his mandate letter, the prime minister asked the immigration minister to support the minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion in supporting and protecting workers who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and in securing labour to fill workforce gaps in farming and food processing.
Trudeau also called on the immigration minister to work with the provinces and territories on settlement services and the integration of new Canadians.
“This includes continuing to support French-language training, while respecting provincial jurisdiction and complementing existing measures, supported by the minister of economic development and official languages,” wrote the prime minister.