Nurses play an essential role in Canada’s healthcare system. The epidemic has exacerbated the country’s scarcity of registered nurses, so the need for globally educated nurses has never been higher.
Whether you have recently qualified as a nurse in another country or have several years of nursing experience, moving to Canada can open up a world of opportunity. This post will look at immigration options for nurses, the provincial licensure process, and in-demand nursing employment in Canada.
Reasons to relocate for registered nurse jobs in Canada.
As a registered nurse, relocating to Canada may be an appealing option for a variety of reasons, including:
Canada has a nursing shortage.
According to the government’s Job Bank, nursing labor shortages will persist for the foreseeable future. According to estimates, 191,100 registered nurse (RN) job opportunities will be available between 2019 and 2028. Still, only 154,600 suitable applicants (including new graduates and immigrants) to fill these positions, resulting in a nationwide shortage of 36,500 registered nurses. Job openings for registered nurses, nursing aides, and patient service associates in Canada nearly quadrupled between 2019 and 2021.
Nursing is a highly sought-after profession in the majority of regions.
Most jurisdictions, including Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta, and Manitoba, have a high demand for nurses. Active efforts are being made to recruit and train nurses and make it simpler for overseas nurses to immigrate to Canada.
In its 2021 provincial budget, Ontario, for example, allocated $342 million to create 5,000 new and upskilled registered nurses and registered practical nurses to its healthcare workforce. Likewise, Quebec intends to hire 1,000 foreign-trained Francophone nurses by 2023.
Nurses in Canada are paid well.
Although nursing salaries vary by province and the National Occupation Classification (NOC) code, nursing employment in Canada generally pays well. The median annual salary for registered nurses in Canada is roughly $76,000, while many RNs earn as much as $92,000.
Does Canada accept foreign nurses?
Internationally educated nurses are critical to the effective operation of Canada’s healthcare system. Several Canadian immigration schemes favor the selection of applicants for permanent residence in high-demand occupations such as nursing (PR).
However, before moving to Canada as a nurse and seeking work, you must be licensed in the province where you wish to work. Most provinces permit you to begin the licensure process remotely, allowing international nurses to enter the labor force sooner.
Immigration Programs for Registered Nurses
Newcomers to Canada who have the skills and certifications required to bridge critical skill gaps are eligible to apply for permanent residency. You can move to Canada as a registered nurse through one of several PR schemes.
Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program
The Express Entry System The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program allows globally qualified skilled workers to become permanent residents of Canada. Based on applicants Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS), they woukd be selected for the FSW program.
A variety of factors, including your age, education, work experience, language competence, and others, determine your CRS score. Additional points are awarded if you have a Canadian employment offer, a province nomination (see the section on PNP below), or Canadian work experience or educational credentials.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)
Except for Quebec and Nunavut, all Canadian provinces and territories have Provincial Nominee Programs that allow them to nominate people with the skills and qualities required to bridge labor shortages.
Selection for Express Entry PNP streams is based on CRS scores. In contrast, other PNP streams allow provinces to nominate talented people in certain professions or NOC codes to address urgent market demands. You may stand a greater chance of securing a provincial nomination from a province needing qualified nurses.
Quebec Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP)
The Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP) enables the Quebec provincial government to welcome applicants with the necessary abilities, training, experience, and language skills to work and settle in the province.
Under the RSWP, applicants can submit an Expression of Interest under all occupations. Selection is based on characteristics such as age, French and English language ability, years of experience, education, and more. If you are chosen, you will be given a Certificate (also known as a Certificat de sélection du Québec or CSQ) and will be able to apply for permanent residence with the IRCC.
Nursing license types in Canada
Nursing is regulated in Canada, and your province or territory must license you before working as a nurse. Most provinces permit you to begin the licensing procedure before arriving in Canada.
In Canada, there are three primary categories of nursing licenses based on the level of education and competence necessary, as well as employment responsibilities:
- Nurse Practitioner (NP): A master’s degree in nursing or an advanced nursing credential with a concentration in adult, pediatric, or primary healthcare, as well as work experience as a registered nurse, are required to qualify for an NP licensure (or equivalent). In certain countries, the NP license is regarded as an extension of the RN license. Before applying, applicants has to be be eligible for the RN license or has to register first.
- Registered Nurse (RN) and Registered Psychiatric Nurse: If you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can apply for an RN license. You must demonstrate recent nursing practice if you graduated more than three years ago.
- Licensed Practical Nurse also known as Registered Practical Nurse: If you have a nursing diploma, you may be eligible for an LPN license. If you graduated more than three years ago, you must show evidence of current nursing practice.
The license names may differ according to the province you apply to, and there may also be entry-level licenses for nursing students or recent graduates. Some provinces, such as British Columbia and Alberta, have a distinct licensure process for Registered Psychiatric Nurses.
How to Obtain a Nursing License in Canada as a Foreign-Trained Nurse
After determining your eligibility, you must apply for the appropriate nursing license. After receiving a report from the National Nursing Assessment Service, you must register with your provincial regulator, produce the necessary documentation, and pay a license fee. Although licensing requirements vary by province/territory, the following steps are often involved:
Registration with National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)
Before coming to Canada, nurses who qualify for an RN, RPN, or LN license must fill out an online National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) application. The following are the essential procedures for registering with the NNAS:
- Create an online account, pay the application cost, and begin your application: Choose a nursing category and a province for your application and pay the USD 650 application order price, including taxes. After sorting the cost, yyou should complete your documentation and submit your application in 12 month.
- Please bring the following identification documents: Notarized and signed copies of two identification documents, including one photo ID, such as your passport, driver’s license, or other government-issued identification, must be submitted. Birth certificates, name change affidavits, and marriage certificates are also valid forms of identification.
- Send your nursing education form: Send printed copies of the form to each overseas post-secondary institution where you studied nursing. The completed applications, along with your academic credentials and course descriptions, must be sent directly to NNAS by the universities. A separate Educational Credentials Assessment is NOT required for internationally qualified nurses (ECA).
- Send your nursing registration form: Print up copies of the form and send it tothe licensing authorities where you were registered as a nurse outside of Canada. The licensing authority must complete the form and transmit it immediately to NNAS.
- Send in your nurse employment application: Printed copies of this form should be sent to any employers you’ve worked for in the last five years. Your employers must send the completed paperwork immediately to NNAS.
- Send your language test results: If English or French is not your first language, you must take an approved language test (IELTS, CELBAN, or TEF) and meet the minimum score criteria. If you reside and work in a country where English/French is the primary language, and your nursing program was taught in one of these languages, you do not need to submit language test results.
Apply to become a registered nurse in your province.
Most provinces allow you to complete the licensing and registration process from outside of Canada online. It is possible that the entire process, including the NNAS application, will take up to 18 months. Start the process as soon as possible so that you can begin your nursing profession in Canada as soon as you arrive.
After completing your NNAS application, contact your provincial or territory regulator and request that they evaluate your nursing license application. The regulator will begin the process only after receiving your dossier from NNAS. You must pay an initial application fee at this stage, which varies by province and nursing category.
Your nursing education credentials, evidence of recent practice (work experience within the last three years), and proof of language proficiency will be reviewed by the provincial regulator. If your application does not match the license standards, you may be required to complete extra training or tests before you can be considered.
In order to be eligible for a provincial nursing license, you must also:
- You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident or have permission to work in Canada.
- To demonstrate your competency, you must pass the Registration Examination for the corresponding nursing category. RN licensure candidates must take the NCLEX-RN exam (National Council Licensure Examination), whereas LPN candidates must take the REx-PN exam (Regulatory Exam – Practical Nurse).
- Complete the Jurisprudence Exam to demonstrate your understanding of the laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines governing the nursing profession in your province or territory.
- Declare any mental or physical conditions or disorders that may impair your capacity to practice nursing.
- Submit a criminal background check report and disclose any previous offenses or cases in which you were denied registration as a nurse in any nation.
After you’ve completed all of the licensing criteria, you may pay the registration and first-year membership fees online and finish your registration.
How much do nurses earn in Canada?
Nurses’ average salary in Canada varies by province, area of specialization, and years of experience. Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses make a median pay of $40/hour in Canada, according to the Government of Canada’s Job Bank, with the highest median wages in Nunavut ($67.83/hour), the Northwest Territories ($53.23/hour), Yukon ($45.28/hour), and Saskatchewan ($44.23/hour). Hourly wages of more than $50 are prevalent in areas of British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba, where there is a serious shortage of registered nurses.
In Canada, nurse practitioners earn an average of $53.37 per hour, whereas licensed practical nurses might earn between $22 and $33.23 per hour.
How to Look for Nursing Jobs in Canada
Because most provinces enable you to finish the nursing certification procedure from outside of Canada, you can begin looking for your first nursing job in Canada before arriving. Here are some pointers to help you find the right job:
Learn about the local employment market requirements.
The skills and qualifications that Canadian businesses seek in nurses may differ from those required in your home country. Reviewing job ads in your nursing area is the simplest way to find skill gaps and potential career possibilities. Some job descriptions, for example, may specify that applicants must have specific credentials or training to work in a given field of expertise. These can be fantastic places to start while preparing for the job market.
Acquire new qualifications and skills.
You may wish to invest in extra qualifications and skill-building programs to position yourself as a great contender for nursing jobs in Canada. Some popular certifications, like basic life support, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and first-aid, can be obtained before obtaining your RN/LPN license.
Tip: While applying for your nursing license, you may be able to obtain work in related unregulated vocations in Canada, such as a personal support worker, caregiver, or attendant, until you are licensed as a nurse. This Canadian experience will be beneficial to your resume.
Create a nursing resume in the Canadian style.
Your native country’s resume formats may not be appropriate for the Canadian employment market. The best structure for your resume will be determined by your level of practical nursing experience. Many Canadian businesses use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to filter applicants, so make sure to tailor your CV to each job and include keywords from the job description. Download our free Canadian-style resume templates to get started.
Investigate job-search websites and employer websites.
Job boards like Job Bank, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, GrabJobs, and Indeed are excellent sites to hunt for work. In addition, make a list of hospitals, healthcare providers, and non-profit organizations who hire nurses and keep an eye on their career pages on their websites.
Increase your professional network.
In Canada, networking is essential for nurses. Connect with nurses and healthcare professionals in your province through LinkedIn or professional associations, and cultivate lasting relationships through one-on-one coffee discussions. Another excellent option to meet healthcare professionals in your area is to volunteer. Networking gives you access to career prospects that may not be publicly available and helps you to obtain information about the licensing procedure, job market, and recruiting process that individual firms use.
The nursing job recruitment procedure in Canada
Employers in Canada select applicants for nursing interviews based on their resumes and cover letters. However, many healthcare organizations fill open positions through referrals from their network or by posting the vacancy. Some conduct open interview days where suitable nursing candidates can walk in.
The first phase is often a screening interview in which the recruiter inquires about your credentials, interest in nursing, and patient care approach. If you’re chosen, you’ll go through several rounds of interviews, including a culture fit interview, to examine your soft skills and team fit.
Following your selection, the employer will do background and reference checks to confirm your identification, credentials, nursing license, employment history, and past behavior. Finally, the employer will make you an offer of employment, which you might accept or reject depending on the terms.
Should you relocate to Canada as a nurse with an international education?
Qualified nurses are in great demand in all provinces across Canada, and the local supply is insufficient to fulfill labor market demands. As an internationally certified nurse, Canada’s immigration policies provide you with an exciting and financially rewarding opportunity to relocate to Canada and reside permanently. However, the licensing procedure can take time, and you may need to finish some provincial examinations or additional coursework before you can work as a licensed nurse in Canada.
Nursing is one of the most in-demand professions in Canada, with job prospects favorable in many provinces. If you have the necessary credentials and want to work in nursing in Canada, you will have several alternatives in terms of location, specialty, and company type.
RNs with skills and expertise in specialty areas such as emergency, critical care, and operating room, as well as those prepared to serve in tiny or isolated locations, are in high demand.
In Canada, registered nurses work in hospitals, nursing homes, extended-care institutions, community health organizations, health centers, and walk-in clinics, as well as other community settings. Nurses can also work for themselves. Because there is a shift toward community-based health care, there may be fewer jobs in hospitals and more in public health areas in the future.