Canada Aims To Improve Lives Of Nurses With New Program

Canada Aims To Improve Lives Of Nurses With New Program
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Canada has launched a new toolkit for nurses that addresses the challenges of on-the-job stress, anxiety, depression and even abuse which is causing so many of these healthcare professionals to burn out.

The Nursing Retention Toolkit: Improving the Working Lives of Nurses in Canada program, which comes in the wake of growing efforts in Canada to recruit healthcare professionals through immigration programs, focuses on eight core themes with corresponding initiatives that employers of nurses can implement to help improve retention.

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The Nursing Retention Toolkit’s eight core themes are:

  • flexible and balanced ways of working;
  • organizational mental health and wellness supports;
  • professional development and mentorship;
  • reduced administrative burden;
  • strong management and communication;
  • clinical governance and infrastructure;
  • inspired leadership, and;
  • safe staffing practices.

“Nurses are the backbone of our health care system, yet too many in Canada are struggling with their mental health, experiencing burnout, distress and feeling overworked, and unappreciated, causing them to leave their jobs,” said Dr. Leigh Chapman, Canada’s chief nursing officer.

“This toolkit provides nursing leadership and health system administrators with an opportunity to contribute first-hand to making changes in our health care system, including improving mental health and wellness supports for nurses so they can stay mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, and so that they can keep caring for us.”

In last year’s federal budget, Ottawa announced plans to invest close to $200 billion to improve healthcare, including support to the healthcare workers retention, recruitment, and planning.

“We need to work together to make sure that nurses in Canada’s healthcare system are supported and get more health workers into the system, faster,” said Health Minister Mark Holland.

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Part of the federal government’s plan to boost the healthcare workforce is an improved foreign credential program for healthcare workers.

In January, Ottawa announced it would invest an extra $86 million into 15 projects across the country to boost the country’s capacity to recognize the foreign credentials of roughly 6,600 internationally-educated health professionals.

“Healthcare workers deliver the care that Canadians need. By bringing in new workers and retaining those who are already there, we can help relieve the labour challenges in our healthcare system,” said Holland.

“This federal funding supports our government’s work with provinces, territories, and stakeholders to have more healthcare workers enter Canada’s workforce and to streamline that process.”

The funded projects aim to:

  • reduce barriers to foreign credential recognition for internationally-educated healthcare professionals by improving the recognition processes, simplifying steps in credential recognition and offering increased access to practice in the field;
  • provide internationally-educated healthcare professionals with relevant Canadian work experience in their intended fields, while incorporating wrap-around supports such as childcare and transportation costs, as well as mentoring and coaching, and;
  • facilitate labour mobility between jurisdictions in Canada for healthcare professionals and internationally-educated healthcare professionals to reduce the systemic and administrative barriers for healthcare professionals who wish to work in other jurisdictions within Canada.

That financial shot in the arm was to provide funding to  key occupations like nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, laboratory technicians and respiratory therapists. Through this investment, internationally trained midwives will be able to take their exams virtually, even before they arrive in Canada.

Jim Lai, president of the Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry, was thrilled.

“The Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry is thrilled to receive this support from the federal government to fund the development and testing of a new program to speed up the qualification and licensing of dentists trained elsewhere in the world so they can practice in Canada,” said Lai.

“With the government’s recent introduction of the new Canadian Dental Care Plan, and its policy of increasing immigration into Canada, there are plans to both help Canada’s poorest and most marginalized people gain access to dental care and to integrate internationally-trained dentists into Canada’s healthcare workforce.”

Canada’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program aims to:

  • develop and strengthen Canada’s foreign credential assessment and recognition capacity;
  • contribute to improving labour market integration outcomes of skilled newcomers, and;
  • support interprovincial labour mobility.

“Honouring the professional credentials of newcomers is a compassionate and effective component of expanding Canada’s workforce,” said Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault.

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“The Foreign Credential Recognition Program speeds up the accreditation for 6,600 people and is not only the right thing to do but one of the best ways we can fill labour gaps, strengthen our healthcare system and grow our economy.”

The latest funding for foreign credential recognition came in the wake of other investments by Ottawa to support newcomers so they can participate in Canadian society, including the Settlement Program managed by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In May last year, Canadian immigration also launched its occupation-targeted draws through three 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).

Canada’s Express Entry system can now target 82 jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture and so there is now a new pathway to immigration for nurses, orderlies and other healthcare workers.

The majority of Canada’s provinces have also been issuing occupation-specific invitations for several years but the labour shortages in the healthcare system persist.

“Retention and burnout are some of the most pressing issues facing our industry today and we were honoured to have been involved in the development of the toolkit,” said Terri Irwin, chief nursing executive at Trillium Health Partners.

“To invest in nurses, ensuring that they are supported physically and emotionally in reaching their full potential, is to invest in the well-being of our communities for generations to come.”

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.