Canada has a shortage of medical sonographers, providing an opportunity for qualified foreign nationals to gain their permanent residence here through occupation-targeted Express Entry draws.
Earlier this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced Canada’s Express Entry system would begin targeting 82 Canada jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture this summer – including medical sonographer.
With the changes announced at the end of May, the 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) are now be more responsive to labour market needs.
The flagship Express Entry selection system had previously only conducted draws based on immigration programs, not by targeting specific occupations.
Ottawa is hoping these occupation-targeted Express Entry draws will help the country tackle its severe labour shortages.
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“Everywhere I go, I’ve heard loud and clear from employers across the country who are experiencing chronic labour shortages,” said then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser earlier this year.
“These changes to the Express Entry system will ensure that they have the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed. We can also grow our economy and help businesses with labour shortages while also increasing the number of French-proficient candidates to help ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities.”
Foreign nationals with the qualifications and experience to be medical sonographers, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 32122, are in even greater demand now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“The absence of sufficient health human resources is a national crisis. There are not enough healthcare workers to support the influx of patients entering the healthcare system,” noted Sonography Canada in a report it published with two other organizations representing medical imaging professionals.
In Improving Access to Lifesaving Imaging Care for Canadians, the association that represents medical sonographers joined with the Canadian Association of Radiologists and the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists to call for more equipment and personnel to meet the healthcare challenges in Canada.
“Before the pandemic, Canadians were waiting an average of 50 to 82 days for CT scans and up to 89 days for MRI imaging,” notes the report. “This is 20 to 52 days longer than the recommended 30-day wait time for these potentially lifesaving modalities.
Demand For Medical Sonographers Shot Up During The Covid-19 Pandemic
“During COVID, waitlists lengthened, creating ominous circumstances for people needing cancer screening, or patients requiring image-guided therapies or ongoing management of their disease.”
The Job Bank job-hunting and career-planning website of the federal government is forecasting job prospects for medical sonographers will be good in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan over the next three years. The website does not give a rating for this occupation for the other provinces or the territories.
The Indeed.ca job-hunting website listed 102 positions for medical sonographers across the country in early August.
In Canada, the median hourly wage for medical sonographers is $36.71 but that varies from a low of $26.44 right up to $53, reveals Job Bank.
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Based on a standard, 37.5-hour work week, that means medical sonographers can expect to earn up to $103,350 per year in Canada.
Candidates will need at least six months of continuous work experience in Canada or abroad within the past three years in one of these occupations to be eligible, experience that can have been gained while working in Canada as temporary foreign workers with a work permits or as an international student with a student visa.
Canada first signalled its intention to start occupation-specific draws through Express Entry in June last year, when changes were made to the Immigration, Refugee and Protection Act to allow invitations based on occupations and other attributes, such as language ability.
The majority of Canada’s provinces have been issuing occupation-specific invitations for several years.
Under the changes to the act, the immigration minister is required to consult provinces and territories, members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners, before announcing new categories.
IRCC must also report to parliament each year on the categories that were chosen and the reason for the choices.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) says the number of occupations facing shortages doubled between 2019 and 2021. From 2018 to 2022, federal high skilled admissions accounted for between 34 and 40 per cent of overall French-speaking admissions outside Quebec, which manages its own immigration intake.
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