Pharmacy assistants can now apply for permanent residence in Canada under the Express Entry system’s Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program in a move Ottawa is hoping will help ease the labour shortage in the healthcare system.
The change to the FSW which made that possible came on Nov. 16 last year, when Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) added 16 new jobs to its list of eligible occupations under that worker immigration program.
That increased the number of eligible occupations under the FSW on the same day the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 came into effect at the IRCC to 359.
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The 16 new occupations are all deemed to be jobs for which the worker must get a college diploma, an apprenticeship training of less than two years, or more than six months of on-the-job training.
The full list of newly-added jobs on the list of eligible occupations under the FSW includes:
- NOC 13102 Payroll administrators
- NOC 33100 Dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants
- NOC 33102 Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
- NOC 33103 Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants
- NOC 43100 Elementary and secondary school teacher assistants
- NOC 43200 Sheriffs and bailiffs
- NOC 43201 Correctional service officers
- NOC 43202 By-law enforcement and other regulatory officers
- NOC 63211 Estheticians, electrologists and related occupations
- NOC 73200 Residential and commercial installers and servicers
- NOC 73202 Pest controllers and fumigators
- NOC 73209 Other repairers and servicers
- NOC 73300 Transport truck drivers
- NOC 73301 Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators
- NOC 73400 Heavy equipment operators
- NOC 93200 Aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors
Pharmacy assistants, who work to prepare medications under a pharmacist’s supervision, fill prescriptions and manage patient files, usually work in retail and hospital pharmacies or long-term care facilities but can also be employed by pharmaceutical manufacturers.
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Categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 33103, pharmacy assistants are in big demand across Canada and the inclusion of this occupation on the eligibility list for the FSW is Ottawa’s way of helping employers recruit the workers they need.
“We are using all of the tools at our disposal to tackle labour shortages, particularly in key sectors like healthcare, construction, and transportation,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in November last year.
“These changes will support Canadians in need of these services, and they will support employers by providing them with a more robust workforce who we can depend on to drive our economy forward into a prosperous future. I’m thrilled to announce expanded pathways to permanent residence in Canada for these in-demand workers.”
The federal government’s job-hunting website, Jobbank, ranks the job prospects of pharmacy assistants over the next three years as good in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan and as moderate in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.
The Indeed job-hunting website had 2,871 help-wanted postings for pharmacy assistants in mid-January.
“NOC 2021 is welcome news for Canadian employers, for newcomers to Canada ready to take on the jobs they are qualified for, and for a newly eligible group of workers who will now have an Express Entry path to permanent residency available to them,” said Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough.
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“With these changes, we are better positioned to tackle labour shortages proactively and grow our economy with a stronger, skilled workforce.”
Economic immigration through Express Entry offers both a way for foreign nationals to get their permanent residence here and for pharmacists to recruit qualified foreign nationals to help prepare the medication and fill the prescriptions of Canadians.
Foreign nationals hoping to apply for permanent residence through the FSW must have one year of paid work experience within the last decade in jobs categorized as TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 of the NOC 2021 system.
Applicants under this program must also take a language test to prove that they possess sufficient language skills to successfully establish themselves in Canada. Language tests evaluate an applicant’s abilities with regard to:
In order to be eligible for the FSW, an applicant needs to obtain at least the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 7 in all categories and show that he or she has enough money to support him or herself and any relatives upon arrival in Canada.