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Canada has a shortage of specialists in surgery that is set to become even more acute over the coming nine years as the country’s demand continues to outstrip the supply.
“Over the period 2022 – 2031, the number of job openings arising from expansion demand and replacement demand for specialist physicians are expected to total 29,800, while the number of job seekers arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility is expected to total 24,000,” reports the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) website.
That’s a projected additional shortfall of 5,800 specialists across Canada by 2031.
“The labour shortage conditions seen in recent years is expected to persist into the 2022 – 2031 period and could even become more acute as the projected number of job openings are substantially higher than the projected number of job seekers over that period,” forecasts the COPS website.
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As the Canadian population ages, demand for healthcare services is expected to explode.
“The number of complex health conditions as well as those requiring additional follow-ups is expected to grow, increasing the need for specialist physicians,” notes the COPS website.
“Consequently, the employment growth rate for these workers is projected to be significantly higher than the average of all occupations. The retirement rate is also expected to be higher than the national average as workers in this occupation tend to be older but retire at a similar age as the rest of the workforce.”
Although there were already many ways for surgeons to immigrate to Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) added one more pathway for them in May.
That month, the IRCC changed Canada’s Express Entry system to allow it to target 82 jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture starting this summer –including specialists in surgery – and so opened the door to a new pathway to immigration for them.
The flagship Express Entry selection system had previously only conducted draws based on immigration programs, not by targeting specific occupations.
“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.
“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.”
In late September, there were 1,699 job postings for surgeons on the Indeed.ca job-hunting website.
The federal government’s job-hunting and career-planning website, Jobbank, ranked the job prospects of specialists in surgery as very good, its highest rating, over the next three years in Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and British Columbia and as good in Alberta and Quebec.
Occupation-Targeted Draws Started For Express Entry Programs This Summer
In Canada, the median yearly income for specialists in surgery, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 31101, is $273,510 but that varies from a low of $100,694 right up to $557,366, reveals Jobbank.
Candidates hoping to immigrate through Express Entry occupation-targeted draws 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.
Under 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 more responsive to labour market needs.
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.