Canadian province to give foreign nurses financial aid, faster entry to jobs to fill shortage
VANCOUVER – Canada’s province of British Columbia will try to solve its critical nursing shortage by financially helping internationally educated nurses get registered and licensed through a faster process.
Authorities confirmed that the current process is confusing and expensive and has blocked foreign-trained nurses from working in the province, which has the fastest-growing population in the country.
“I think it’s fair to say that for internationally educated nurses, it is a challenging road,” Health Minister Adrian Dix was quoted by the Toronto Star. “It’s costly and it’s lengthy, and that’s at a time when we need nurses, and we need people to use the skills they have.”
British Columbia will simplify the the application and assessment process for eligible nurses. Those trained outside Canada will now be required to take only one assessment instead of three for jobs as health-care assistants, licensed practical nurses or registered nurses, significantly cutting costs and time.
Financial aid of up to $16,000 each to about 1,500 nurses will be provided this year to cover application fees, English language testing and education upgrading. Travel scholarships for those living in remote areas will also be provided they can go to the Vancouver area for assessments.
Case workers will help nurses navigate the immigration, assessment, licensing and employment processes as the province launches a domestic and international marketing campaign next month to attract more nurses. However, the national competency assessment process is still likely to take about a year as the province improves the system.
Jennie Arceno, a registered nurse who trained in the Philippines and worked there for five years before moving to B.C. in 2016, told The Star that the registration process took her three years to complete.
“No employer was willing to hire me as I didn’t have the Canadian experience,” she said, adding she applied to every health authority in the province before getting a job at a hospital in Campbell River.
Aman Grewal, president of the B.C. Nurses Union, welcomed the changes as a “very positive step” toward filling thousands of nursing positions across the province.