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The current labour market shortage of physician assistants, midwives and allied health professionals is expected to only grow over the coming eight years and provide even more opportunities for qualified foreign nationals to gain their permanent residence here through occupation-targeted Express Entry system draws.
“As the Canadian population ages, the demand for health services and, consequently, the need for health care professionals is expected to increase,” notes the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) website.
“For example, the demand for eye care services is anticipated to grow steadily, given the prevalence of age-related eye conditions.
“Similarly, many individuals with health issues are projected to seek alternative solutions to traditional medicine.”
Although there were already many ways for physician assistants, midwives and allied health professionals to immigrate to Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) added one more pathway for them in May.
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That month, the IRCC changed Canada’s Express Entry system to allow it to target 82 jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture starting this summer – physician assistants, midwives and allied health professionals – and so opened the door to a new pathway to immigration for them.
The flagship Express Entry selection system had previously only conducted draws based on immigration programs, not by targeting specific occupations.
“Everywhere I go, I’ve heard loud and clear from employers across the country who are experiencing chronic labour shortages,” said then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
“These changes to the Express Entry system will ensure that they have the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed. We can also grow our economy and help businesses with labour shortages while also increasing the number of French-proficient candidates to help ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities.”
The federal government’s job-hunting and career-planning website, Job Bank, ranks the job prospects of physician assistants, midwives and allied health professionals over the next three years as very good, its highest rating, over the next three years in Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia and as good in the rest of the country.
Physician Assistants Can Earn Up To $122,850 Annually, Says Statscan
In Canada, the median hourly wage for these workers, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 31303, is $54.01 but that varies from a low of $30.18 right up to $63, reveals Job Bank, the federal government’s job-hunting and career-planning website.
Based on a 37.5-hour work week, that means a nurse aide or orderly can expect to earn up to $122,850 annually in Canada.
Candidates hoping to immigrate through Express Entry occupation-targeted draws need at least six months of continuous work experience in Canada or abroad within the past three years in one of these occupations to be eligible, experience that can have been gained while working in Canada as temporary foreign workers with a work permits or as an international student with a student visa.
Under the changes announced at the end of May, the Express Entry streams, including the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as well as parts of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are now more responsive to labour market needs.
Canada first signalled its intention to start occupation-specific draws through Express Entry in June last year, when changes were made to the Immigration, Refugee and Protection Act to allow invitations based on occupations and other attributes, such as language ability.
The majority of Canada’s provinces have been issuing occupation-specific invitations for several years.
Under the changes to the act, the immigration minister is required to consult provinces and territories, members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners, before announcing new categories.
IRCC must also report to parliament each year on the categories that were chosen and the reason for the choices.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) says the number of occupations facing shortages doubled between 2019 and 2021. From 2018 to 2022, federal high skilled admissions accounted for between 34 and 40 per cent of overall French-speaking admissions outside Quebec, which manages its own immigration intake.