With the need for more health-care workers growing, the province is setting its sights on bringing in qualified people from outside the country to help keep up with the ever-increasing demand.
A delegation from Manitoba is going to the Philippines next month, hoping to recruit hundreds of internationally educated nurses (IENs) to work in health care in the province, according to a Wednesday news release.
The group, which will include Manitoba Advanced Education, Immigration and Skills Minister Jon Reyes, is scheduled to visit three cities — Manila, Cebu City and Iloilo — between Feb. 21-25.
Deb Elias, chief executive officer and registrar at the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba, is big proponent of the international recruiting mission.
“This is great news. We totally recognize that there’s significant pressure on the health-care system and having an adequate number of registered nurses is something that we’re very dedicated to doing at the College of Registered Nurses as well,” Elias told CBC News in an interview.
Applicants in the Philippines will be pre-screened, with a focus on finding IENs who have at least two years experience in acute or long-term care. They will also have to complete an English language test.
Provincial heath-care employers will conduct interviews, with the intention of offering conditional employment to people in the Philippines who meet the desired qualifications.
But it might take some time before they begin working at a Manitoba health-care facility because of immigration pathways.
“For a registration pathway, it’s about a year or two depending on how many gaps people have in their competence assessment and some of their life events as well. It will take some time,” Elias said.
“It’s more of a medium-term plan for sure.”
But she’s optimistic, noting that when the province embarked on similar international recruiting missions in 2000 and 2008, there was a “fairly good uptake.”
There is an existing process for bringing health-care workers from other countries to Manitoba, but changes are coming. Elias hopes Filipino applicants will be able to do most of the registration requirements before potentially coming to Canada.
The clinical competence assessment and theoretical courses are among the hurdles international applicants must complete. Upon arrival in Manitoba, they can complete other registration requirements and join the health-care system in short order, according to Elias.
IENs can also work as undergraduate nurse employees while they complete their education requirements.
“That gives them the chance to work in the system, be in Manitoba while they’re doing that,” she said. “They can contribute to the system, but also work towards their registered nursing status, which is good news for everybody.”
Along the way, eligible nurses will be able to access a support and mentorship package that includes travel, immigration costs, credentialing and mentorship, according to the release.
The province previously announced support for IENs living in Manitoba, including clinical competency assessments, bridge training, living allowance, transportation and child care, and assistance to help navigate the licensing process.
Manitoba’s registration requirements for IENs is similar to those across Canada, says Elias.
The province’s Filipino community is also continuing to grow, and Elias feels it’s the ideal place for IENs to immigrate to.
Health minister Audrey Gordon feels the same way.
“Our government has been very clear that Manitoba is a destination of choice for trained health-care providers from around the world,” she said in the release.
The recruitment trip is part of the province’s Health Human Resource Action Plan, which was announced last November.