Last Updated on June 1, 2021
Immigrants to Canada are over-represented in nursing and healthcare support positions, a Statistics Canada report reveals.
“In 2015/2016, they made up 22 per cent of the workforce in these occupations, compared with 16 per cent of the total employed population,” notes the report.
Immigrants from countries with predominantly-Black populations are among those newcomers most likely to enter into the Canadian workforce as nurses or other healthcare support workers. Asian immigrants were a close second.
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“Overall, five per cent of employed adult immigrants in 2015/2016 worked in nursing or healthcare support occupations, compared with three per cent of other employed individuals,” notes the report.
“However, this proportion varied by place of birth. The percentage of adult immigrants in nursing or healthcare support occupations was particularly high among immigrants born in the Caribbean and Bermuda (13 per cent), Western Africa (12 per cent), Central Africa (12 per cent), Eastern Africa (eight per cent), and Southeast Asia (10 per cent).”
Caribbean, Bermuda, Africa Important Sources of Healthcare Workers
Immigrants from predominantly-Black countries working as nurses or healthcare support staff in Canada were also the newcomers in those occupational groups most likely to have completed their highest post-secondary education in Canada.
“A large proportion of immigrants from the Caribbean and Bermuda (75 per cent) and sub-Saharan Africa (60 per cent) completed their highest level of education in Canada, while a minority of immigrants born in the Philippines (25 per cent) and Southern Asia (32 per cent) had done so,” notes the report.
Among Asian immigrants, those most likely to work as nurses or healthcare support workers in Canada were Filipinos, reports Statistics Canada.
“Among immigrants from Southeast Asia, immigrants from the Philippines stood out with a high proportion (13 per cent) and a large number (44,380) of people employed in nursing or healthcare support occupations,” reports Canada’s statistical analysis agency. “In 2016, they accounted for nearly one-third (30 per cent) of adult immigrants in these occupations.”
The importance of immigrants to Canada’s healthcare system has not gone unnoticed by either Ottawa or the provinces.
Earlier this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched six new pathways to permanent residency, including one for francophone and another for anglophone healthcare workers.
“One in three workers in our healthcare system is an immigrant,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino when the new pathways were launched. “That’s why these new pathways are so important.”
Dr. Victoria Lee, president and CEO of the Fraser Health Authority, agreed.
Ottawa and Provinces Encouraging Immigration to Boost Healthcare
“When the healthcare system is stretched, it’s not because we don’t have enough space, enough beds. It’s because we don’t have enough people,” said the top exec for the health authority in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.
“There are many healthcare workers that are in under-employment situations because their healthcare credentials are not recognized,” she said.
Canada’s francophone province of Quebec has also upped its efforts to attract immigrants to work in its healthcare system.
Earlier this year, Quebec launched the Orderlies Pilot Program on March 31 for nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates. Those occupations with the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) numbers and descriptions are included:
- 3011 – Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors
- 3012 – Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
- 3124 – Allied primary health practitioners
- 3233 – Licensed practical nurses
- 4412 – Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations
Candidates need to have gotten a DEP in a related field of study in the two years prior to their application.
They also have at least two years of experience in this type of occupation, currently work in such a job, and have a level seven proficiency in French as measured by the Échelle québécoise des niveaux de compétence en français des personnes immigrantes adultes.