Changes to Canada's Permanent Residence Program - Easier Access for Healthcare Occupations
On June 28, 2023, the Canadian government announced a new immigration stream tailored specifically for health workers. This initiative was a response to the unprecedented shortages in the health sector. The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, introduced this program.
Under this new system, the government can issue invitations for permanent residency to candidates from specific fields or with particular skills, training, or language abilities. The first round of this category-based selection invited 500 health workers, including doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, and optometrists. A subsequent round scheduled for July 5 aimed to invite an additional 1,500 workers.
This targeted approach is designed to bolster Canada's healthcare system by attracting skilled health professionals from around the world. The initiative is part of a broader strategy to address labor shortages in the health sector and improve access to healthcare services for Canadians.
The current state of physician shortages in Canada
Physician shortages are a major problem in Canada. According to recent estimates, the country is short of 5,500 doctors and this number is expected to double by 2030. This shortage has become a pressing issue for Canada as it affects access to health care for many citizens. Unfortunately, some physicians have faced significant barriers when it comes to accessing permanent residence through Canada's flagship programs for skilled workers managed under the Express Entry system. This is because the “fee-for-service” model used in Canada for health care professionals puts them outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship. As a result, these physicians are often considered self-employed and unable to meet the eligibility criteria of the economic pathways for Canada Permanent Residence.
The new changes to the permanent residence program
In an effort to address the ongoing shortage of health care professionals in Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently announced new changes to their permanent residence program for doctors. These changes will make it easier for physicians who are employed in a fee-for-service model with public health authorities to apply for and receive permanent residence status in Canada.
This exemption from current requirements recognizes the unique employment model used in Canada’s health care system, and will provide physicians with much needed access to Canada’s economic permanent residence programs. This move is expected to help attract more doctors to Canada and keep those already here and filling crucial vacancies in our health care sector, especially in rural areas where the need for physicians is greatest.
These changes are a step in the right direction in addressing doctor shortages and providing Canadians with more access to necessary health care services.
How these changes will impact physician shortages in Canada
The new changes to Canada's permanent residence program for health care professionals will make it easier for physicians to gain permanent residence in the country. With easier access to permanent residence, foreign doctors can more easily stay in Canada, reducing physician shortages and providing much needed support for hospitals and other medical facilities. This could also have a positive effect on wait times for medical services, and free up resources for more specialized care. Furthermore, this change in policy could attract more foreign doctors to Canada, which would help address the current and future doctor shortages. By allowing foreign doctors to stay and work in Canada, we can ensure that Canadians receive the best possible care and treatment.
Eligibility Criteria for Healthcare Occupations Under Canada's New Immigration Stream
In an effort to address the pressing needs of the healthcare sector, Canada has introduced a category-based selection for Express Entry candidates. This initiative is designed to invite candidates who possess specific skills, training, or language abilities that align with Canada's economic goals. For 2023, healthcare occupations have been highlighted as a priority.
Eligibility for the Healthcare Occupations Category
To qualify under the healthcare occupations category, candidates must:
Meet the minimum criteria for Express Entry, which includes being eligible for one of the three immigration programs it covers.
Have accumulated, within the past three years, at least six months of full-time, continuous work experience (or an equivalent amount of part-time work experience) in a single occupation listed in the table below, either in Canada or abroad.
Comply with all the requirements specified in the instructions for that round.
Occupations and Their Corresponding 2021 NOC Codes:
Nursing coordinators and Supervisors: NOC 31300
Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses: NOC 31301
Nurse Practitioners: NOC 31302
Specialists in Clinical and Laboratory Medicine: NOC 31100
Specialists in Surgery: NOC 31101
General Practitioners and Family Physicians: NOC 31102
Dentists: NOC 31110
Veterinarians: NOC 31103
Optometrists: NOC 31111
Chiropractors: NOC 31201
Other Professional Occupations in Health Diagnosing and Treating: NOC 31209
Dieticians and Nutritionists: NOC 31121
Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists: NOC 31112
Physiotherapists: NOC 31202
Other Technical Occupations in Therapy and Assessment: NOC 32109
Occupational Therapists: NOC 31203
Kinesiologists and Other Professional Occupation in Therapy and Assessment: NOC 31204
Medical Laboratory Technologists: NOC 32120
Medical Laboratory Assistants and Related Technical Occupations: NOC 33101
Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services: NOC 33109
Physician Assistants, Midwives, and Allied Health Professionals: NOC 31303
Respiratory Therapists, Clinical Perfusionists, and Cardiopulmonary Technologists: NOC 32103
Medical Radiation Technologists: NOC 32121
Medical Sonographers: NOC 32122
Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists: NOC 32200
Other Practitioners of Natural Healing: NOC 32209
Massage Therapists: NOC 32201
Licensed Practical Nurses: NOC 32101
Paramedical Occupations: NOC 32102
Nurse Aides, Orderlies, and Patient Service Associates: NOC 33102
Pharmacy Technical Assistants and Pharmacy Assistants: NOC 33103
Psychologists: NOC 31200
Therapists in Counselling and Related Specialized Therapies: NOC 41301
Education Counsellors: NOC 41320
Instructors of Persons with Disabilities: NOC 42203
This list provides a comprehensive overview of the healthcare occupations that are prioritized under the new immigration stream for 2023. Candidates who meet the criteria and fall under these occupations have a higher chance of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence in Canada.