Canada is investing up to $90 million in projects to help foreign-educated immigrants get their credentials recognized, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Monday.

In Charlottetown, the immigration minister launched a call for proposals for projects, each of which will be able to receive between $500,000 and $10 million.

“I am proud to announce Canada’s new and improved investments to support internationally-educated healthcare professionals to work in the healthcare sector,” said Fraser. 

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“The efforts to support newcomers overcoming the barriers to foreign credential recognition provide opportunities to gain on-the-job experience and facilitate labour mobility announced today are essential ways of ensuring our healthcare system is one of the best in the world and we look forward to welcoming newcomers who will contribute to this system.”

Foreign-Trained Healthcare Professionals Deemed Essential To Resolving Labour Shortages

Qualifying projects will have to focus on one of three main ways of improving foreign credential recognition, including:

  • reducing barriers to foreign credential recognition for internationally-educated health professionals by improving recognition processes, simplifying steps in credential recognition and offering increased access to practice in the field;
  • providing internationally-educated health professionals with Canadian work experience relevant to their intended fields of work while incorporating wrap-around supports for participants such as childcare and transportation costs, as well as mentoring and coaching, or;
  • facilitating labour mobility between jurisdictions in Canada for healthcare professionals and internationally-educated health professionals to reduce the systemic and administrative barriers for healthcare professionals who wish to work in other jurisdictions in Canada.

“Internationally-educated healthcare professionals are essential to addressing current labour shortages across our healthcare system,” said Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough.

“To help reduce barriers to credential recognition, our government is investing in projects through the Foreign Credential Recognition Program that will support skilled professionals in gaining Canadian work experience within their fields of study.”

Organizations have until Jan. 30 next year to apply for funding for their proposals which must include: 

  • development, testing and implementation of credential recognition systems, with a focus on streamlining regulatory processes and/or harmonization of occupational requirements to improve the foreign credential recognition process and/or interprovincial labour mobility, and;
  • provision of employment supports such as wage subsidies, work placements, and mentoring to internationally-educated health professionals to help them integrate into the Canadian labour market.

Foreign Credential Recognition Program Invests $27m Per Year

“To ensure that patients across Canada get the care they need, when and where they need it, we are working to address the health workforce crisis and strengthen our healthcare system,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. 

“The successful projects under the Foreign Credential Recognition Program will help remove existing barriers and enable many qualified and skilled newcomers to gain Canadian work experience in areas of healthcare where we need them most.”

Canada is dealing with a massive shortage of physicians, nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists and medical laboratory technologists. Two years ago, a Statistics Canada report noted skilled newcomers were then under-used in the healthcare sector with 47 per cent of them either unemployed or underemployed in non-healthcare jobs needing only a high school education.

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Every year, Canada’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program invests roughly $27.1 million through agreements with provinces and territories, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders to help support the labour market integration of skilled newcomers. 

Since 2015, the program has invested more than $129 million in 92 projects. In its latest budget, Ottawa pledged an extra $115 million over five years starting in 2022-2023 and $30 million in on-going funding for the program.

Under the Express Entry system, immigrants can apply for permanent residency online if they meet the eligibility criteria for one of three federal immigration programs, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST), and Canada Experience Class Program (CEC),  or a participating provincial immigration program.

Candidates’ profiles then are ranked against each other according to a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The highest-ranked candidates will be considered for an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Those receiving an ITA must quickly submit a full application and pay processing fees, within a delay of 90-days.

Through a network of Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), almost all of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories can also nominate skilled worker candidates for admission to Canada when they have the specific skills required by local economies. Successful candidates who receive a provincial or territorial nomination can then apply for Canadian permanent residence through federal immigration authorities.

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