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#ExpressEntry: Easier Access to Permanent Residence for Physicians in Canada

Doctors from all over the world who choose to come to Canada and work in our communities play a vital role in keeping us healthy and ensuring local access to family physicians at a time when our aging population needs it the most. As provinces and territories seek to attract and retain more foreign-trained doctors to help address shortages, the Government of Canada is making it easier for these doctors to call Canada home permanently.

After a meeting with family physicians and Healthy Pictou County at the Aberdeen Hospital, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced changes to make it easier for foreign-born physicians to remain in Canada, so they can continue to practice in Canada and bolster our health care system.

Some physicians have faced barriers in accessing permanent residence through, Canada’s flagship programs for skilled workers managed under the Express Entry system, as the “fee-for-service” model used in Canada for health care professionals is outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship. As a result, some physicians are currently considered self-employed, leaving them unable to meet the eligibility criteria of the economic pathways for permanent residency.

To address this challenge, Minister Fraser announced that IRCC is exempting physicians, who work in a fee-for-service model with public health authorities, from current requirements. This change recognizes the unique employment model used in Canada’s health care system, and will provide physicians with access to Canada’s economic permanent residence programs. This will mean that a greater number of those physicians already here and filling crucial vacancies in our health care sector can remain here permanently.

To help address labour shortages, IRCC is improving its immigration system to allow foreign nationals who are already in Canada to stay here and work. Immigration is key to helping employers fill hundreds of thousands of vacant positions across the country. When our immigration system works well, our economy benefits. We’ll continue to work alongside provincial and territorial partners and stakeholders to help solve key labour shortages in the health care sector.

“In my home province in particular, foreign-born physicians have been helping to keep families healthy and to take care of our aging population. Their skills are critical resources in our community, and it does not take long before they become our neighbours, friends, and fellow community leaders. Physicians resettling here in Nova Scotia or in other parts across the country is a win-win situation. The measures announced today signal to these physicians that we want them to stay, by making it easier for them to choose Canada as their permanent home.”

– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Today’s news sends a clear signal that we want physicians to choose and remain in Nova Scotia. We applaud the federal government for removing barriers within their control, in partnership with community efforts, like Healthy Pictou County and other similar grassroots groups, to attract and retain physicians both locally and globally. We recognize that there are no easy answers, and we thank Minister Fraser for his personal efforts on behalf of the federal government.”

– Murray Hill, Chair of Citizens for a Healthy Pictou County

Quick facts

  • IRCC continues to prioritize temporary resident work permit applications for essential workers in health care.
  • In 2022, IRCC has accepted over 8,600 temporary and permanent resident applications from foreign nationals intending to work in the health sector.
  • In 2021, IRCC approved work permit and work permit extension applications for over 2,500 specialized physicians, 620 nurses, and 550 nurses’ aides and orderlies.
  • Since 2015, over 22,400 people, including nearly just over 3,600 physicians and 8,600 nurses, became permanent residents through Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program.
  • Economic programs under Express Entry for physicians include, the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Canadian experience class.
  • As of June 2022, approximately 4,300 permanent residents were admitted under the health care streams of the time-limited Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence Pathway.
  • The Government of Canada is seeking to build on the success of Express Entry to better respond to a range of evolving economic needs and priorities, including through legislative changes introduced in Bill C-19. The provisions came into force upon Royal Assent on June 23 and will be fully implemented following changes to our internal IT systems.
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