PH-trained nurses in Canada, eager to work but stymied by red tape
Thousands of internationally trained nurses, including Filipinos, could ease the pandemic’s strain on Canada’s health-care system if only they were given the chance to work.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario says there are around 15,000 internationally trained nurses in the province who aren’t practicing in their field, even though they could make a huge difference for the health care system.
“We can help. Like, come on guys. We’re here. And we’ve been trained and been working for so many years. We just hope that they could consider us,” Antonette Licuanan told CTV News.
Licuanan was a nurse in the Philippines for seven years before moving to Ontario, but she can’t work as a nurse until she completes a lengthy, complex and costly expensive certification process.
There’s good news for some internationally trained nurses in Ontario. The province on Tuesday announced that 1,200 of these nurses will be matched with hospitals and long-term care homes to deal with immediate staffing shortages.
Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that international nurses who have applied to practice in Ontario “will have the opportunity to meet their applications requirements by working in health-care settings under the supervision of a regulated health-care provider.”
But some nurses, even after acquiring the appropriate certification, still can’t practice due to immigration processing delays.
Karla Ducusin is a registered nurse in Ontario and previously worked as a nurse in the Philippines for four years. But even though she has the right credentials, she’s still waiting on immigration officials to process her permanent residency application, which she submitted in October 2020.
Ducusin said she worked hard to get her nursing credentials, which depleted all of her savings. But pandemic-related delays in immigration processing have held her back.
“It’s very, very frustrating, honestly. I see the news, I read in articles that nurses are burned out. Nurses are tired. They’re exhausted from working overtime,” Ducusin told CTV News. “We are here. We can help.”
The shortage of nurses predates the pandemic. But the Omicron variant caused a surge of infections among nurses, who would have to isolate. On top of that, hospitalizations and ICU admissions are rising, further straining the health-care system.
“In the next four to six weeks. We need help. We need bodies. We need to fast track the registration and the work permits for internationally educated nurses,” said Morgan Hoffarth, president of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.
It’s a similar story on the West Coast. The B.C. Nurses’ Union also wants to see the process of certification simplified for internationally educated nurses.
Even before obtaining all of the proper certification, nurses like Licuanan could be put to work right now doing non-critical tasks and take some of the load off other nurses. “It’s an untapped resource,” Danette Thomsen, the union’s interim vice-president, told CTV News.