Recently, British Columbia announced that it would remove some barriers to registering internationally educated nurses (IENs) in the province. To accomplish this, application fees will be removed and new financial support will be provided to nurses returning to practice.
For nurses returning to practice after a period of absence, the province will now cover the application and assessment fees for IENs, which can cost more than $3,700.
As Premier David Eby pointed out, “the demand for nurses is outpacing the supply as we work to make health care accessible for all British Columbians. There are talented and skilled nurses with the right experience who wish to practice in BC and support high-quality care, but an expensive and complicated registration process keeps them off the field. Whether a nurse was trained in or out of the province, we are ready to welcome those who are ready to work in British Columbians.”
In April 2022, the BC government announced that $12 million would be available as bursaries for IENs. There have been over 5,000 people expressing an interest in nursing in British Columbia since the funding was announced. Approximately 2,000 of these individuals are actively pursuing the registration and assessment processes and are actively pursuing it.
The BC College of Nurses and Midwives received more than 90% of its nursing applications in 2022 following the changes that were made to the education system.
The Ontario Government is Also Working Towards Hiring and Retaining More IENs to Work in the Province
The Ontario Ministry of Health, the College of Nurses of Ontario, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario made similar strides toward easing the path for IENs the last fall. As a result, the Ontario Ministry of Health, the College of Nurses of Ontario, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario implemented a series of changes, including:
- It should be possible for internationally educated nurses to register in a temporary class in order to begin working sooner while they continue to work towards their full registration;
- By introducing flexibility to the requirement that nurses must have practiced nursing within a certain period of time before submitting an application for reinstatement, we will make it easier for non-practicing or retired nurses to return to the profession;
- It is proposed to create a new temporary independent practice registration class for physicians from other provinces and territories in order to make it easier for them to work for up to 90 days in Ontario.
Additional measures have been introduced for IENs on January 1 this year, which will speed up the registration process and have a further positive impact:
- Regulating time limits for registration decisions by health regulatory colleges;
- To prohibit health regulatory colleges from requiring Canadian work experience for registration, except when international experience is equivalent;
- Reducing duplicate language proficiency testing for immigrants to Canada by accepting language tests approved under the IRPA.
The province expects to support over 1,000 IENs by the end of March this year after expanding funding to the supervised practice experience partnership program.
It is temporarily covering the costs of examination, application, and registration fees for Ontario’s College of Nurses, which can reach $1,500. Lastly, Ontario has invested $764 million to provide Ontario nurses with up to $5,000 as a retention incentive.
Healthcare Workers are in High Demand in Canada
Healthcare in Canada is under pressure due to several factors, including an aging population and the retirement of many healthcare professionals.
Further, according to a report by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union, nurses are in need even before COVID-19. Many healthcare professionals worked unprecedentedly long shifts with little time off during the peak of the pandemic, leading to extended mental health leaves or quitting. Health care and social assistance had 151,200 vacant positions in October, the highest level across all sectors, and little changed from July’s record high of 152,800. Recent data shows that healthcare and social assistance employment is continuing to decrease, and Ontario has the largest number of job losses.