First-ever category-based Express Entry draw for healthcare workers finally.

The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has issued invitations to 500 healthcare professionals through the recently introduced Express Entry category-based selection draws. To qualify, candidates needed to achieve a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 476.

This is the inaugural category-based selection draw following the announcement of six new categories on May 31. A second round is scheduled for July 5, where 1,500 healthcare workers will be invited to apply.

Furthermore, it is anticipated that a draw will be conducted in the same week, inviting eligible candidates from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Among the six new categories, healthcare occupations make up the largest number of eligible occupations, 35 in total:

  • Audiologists and speech language pathologists
  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists
  • Dieticians and nutritionists
  • Education counsellors
  • General practitioners and family physicians
  • Instructors of persons with disabilities
  • Kinesiologists and other professional occupation in therapy and assessment
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Massage therapists
  • Medical laboratory assistants and related technical occupations
  • Medical laboratory technologists
  • Medical radiation technologists
  • Medical sonographers
  • Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nursing coordinators and supervisors
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Other assisting occupations in support of health services
  • Other practitioners of natural healing
  • Other professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating
  • Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment
  • Paramedical occupations
  • Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants
  • Physician assistants, midwives and allied health professionals
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
  • Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
  • Specialists in clinical and laboratory medicine
  • Specialists in surgery
  • Therapists in counselling and related specialized therapies
  • Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists
  • Veterinarians

Other categories include:

  • science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions
  • trades, such as carpenters, plumbers and contractors
  • transportation
  • agriculture and agri-food
  • strong French language proficiency

Healthcare worker shortage in Canada

The healthcare industry is facing a significant shortage of workers, which can be attributed to Canada’s low birth rates and aging population. With approximately nine million Canadians expected to reach retirement age (65) within the next seven years, the demand for healthcare services is likely to increase due to the aging population.

To address this shortfall, Canada relies on immigrants to fill crucial positions and compensate for the lack of younger Canadians. The healthcare and social assistance sector currently has 144,500 vacant positions, accounting for 17.7% of all unfilled jobs, as per recent data from Statistics Canada (March 2023).

Various provinces and territories have already implemented targeted streams of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) to attract healthcare professionals. For instance, Alberta launched the Designated Healthcare Pathway under the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program, British Columbia consistently invites healthcare professionals in their BC PNP draws, and Ontario recently invited 318 foreign workers in healthcare occupations.

The introduction of category-based selection draws this year was expected following changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in June 2022. These changes grant the immigration minister the authority to prioritize economic immigrants based on specific attributes that support Canada’s economic goals or promote French-speaking immigration to communities outside of Quebec.

The chosen categories for the selection draws were determined through consultations with provincial and territorial governments and other stakeholders to identify the areas with the most significant labor force gaps.

Candidates eligible under occupation-specific categories must have at least six months of continuous work experience in one of the listed occupations within the past three years, whether acquired in Canada or abroad.

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