Immigrate To Canada As An Occupational Therapist: All You Need To Know

Immigrate To Canada As An Occupational Therapist: All You Need To Know
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There are plenty of Canada jobs available for occupational therapists and Ottawa is hoping foreign nationals will see that as an opportunity to gain their permanent residence in Canada through occupation-targeted Express Entry system draws.

Earlier this year Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced Canada’s Express Entry system would begin targeting 82 jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture this summer – including occupational therapists.

That gave foreign nationals hoping to immigrate to Canada a new pathway to immigration as the flagship Express Entry selection system had previously only conducted draws based on immigration programs, not by targeting specific occupations.

Occupational therapists in other countries can expect to be increasingly wooed by Canadian employers as the demand for their services shoots up in the coming years.

The Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) website projects that demand for occupational therapists is going to spike. In the years leading up to 2031, the COPS website projects a shortfall of 1,500 occupational therapists in Canada.

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“Over the period 2022 – 2031, the number of job openings arising from expansion demand and replacement demand for occupational therapists and other professional occupations in therapy and assessment are expected to total 9,100, while the number of job seekers arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility is expected to total 7,600,” notes the COPS website.

“It is expected that the shortage between labour supply and demand seen in recent years will continue over the projection period. Job openings are projected to arise primarily from employment growth. Population growth and the rising share of older people will have an important impact on job creation in this occupational group.”

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Candidates hoping to immigrate through Express Entry occupation-targeted draws 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.

Occupational therapists, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 31203, develop individual and group programs with people affected by illness, injury, developmental disorders, emotional or psychological problems and aging to maintain, restore or increase their ability to care for themselves and to engage in work, school or leisure.

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The Job Bank federal job-hunting and career-planning website gives a ranking of good for the job prospects of occupational therapists in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. The website ranks the job prospects for these workers as moderate in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In late August, the job-hunting website listed 1,609 jobs for occupational therapists in Canada.

Occupational Therapists Can Earn Up To $80,398 Annually In Canada

The median hourly wage for occupational therapists in Canada is $41.32 but that varies from a low of $30 right up to $49.23 reveals Job Bank.

Based on a standard, 37.5-hour work week, that means instructors of persons with disabilities can expect to earn up to $80,398 per year in Canada.

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.

“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.”


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.

Are you ready to live and work in Canada? Fill out our free evaluation form to find out if you are eligible.

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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.