According to a recent Statistics Canada report, 58% of internationally trained healthcare professionals (IEHPs) in Canada, including nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and dentists, are employed in their respective fields.
The report reveals that out of the 259,694 IEHPs in Canada, 76% work in the field. Though this is slightly lower than the 80% employment rate among Canadian-educated healthcare professionals. This employment data includes IEHPs who are not working in healthcare occupations.
Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data indicates that immigrants make up 25% of the healthcare workforce. A figure expected to increase as over 500,000 healthcare workers are over 55 and will retire within the next decade.
Statistics Canada further highlights that half of IEHPs arrived in Canada during their core working years. Between ages 25 and 34, with nearly one-third coming between 2016 and 2021. Overall, two-thirds of IEHPs are under 50, and 7 out of 10 IEHPs in Canada are women.
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Geographic Distribution and Educational Background of IEHPs in Canada
A recent study on internationally educated healthcare professionals (IEHPs) in Canada revealed that Ontario had the highest population of IEHPs at 116,310. Followed by British Columbia with 45,235 and Alberta with 42,035. Conversely, the northern and Atlantic provinces had the lowest numbers, with Prince Edward Island having just 475 IEHPs, followed by the three territories at 605, and Nova Scotia with 3,195 IEHPs.
Regarding their educational backgrounds, the study found that 63% of IEHPs had received their education in Asia. While 11% had studied in English-speaking Western countries. This distribution varied across provinces, with Asian-educated IEHPs making up 75% in Manitoba. While 21% of New Brunswick’s IEHPs had studied in English-speaking Western countries.
Occupations and Employment Trends Among IEHPs in Canada
When it comes to their occupations, Statistics Canada reveals that one-third of IEHPs in Canada specialize in nursing. Among them, the top five roles included registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (34%), nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates (21%), licensed practical nurses (8%), light duty cleaners (2%), and social and community service workers (2%). Interestingly, over half of the IEHPs in Prince Edward Island had studied nursing.
Meanwhile, IEHPs who trained as physicians comprised 15% of the total IEHP population in Canada, with a significant concentration residing in Newfoundland and Labrador. Notably, this province also boasted the highest proportion of IEHPs employed in health occupations. With 74% of IEHPs working in healthcare roles. Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan also exhibited high employment rates for IEHPs in healthcare occupations, with over 65% each. However, in the rest of Canada, only 46% of IEHPs were employed in healthcare-related fields.
Healthcare Labor Shortage and Opportunities for IEHPs in Canada
According to the most recent job vacancy data from Statistics Canada, there were 147,100 job vacancies within the healthcare sector in June of this year. In light of this labor shortage, the IEHP report highlights the potential contribution of newcomers already residing in Canada who could help address these workforce gaps.
One significant barrier preventing IEHPs from securing employment in their respective fields is the challenge of obtaining licensure in a regulated profession in Canada. Each province in Canada maintains its own regulatory body with varying requirements for healthcare professionals.
Nevertheless, provinces are taking steps to alleviate these obstacles for IEHPs. For instance, Nova Scotia has introduced an expedited pathway for international nurses who are registered and hold a current license, enabling them to practice as registered nurses in countries such as the Philippines, India, Nigeria, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, or New Zealand.