Nurses play an important role in Canada’s healthcare system. The pandemic has amplified the country’s shortage of skilled nurses, and as a result, the demand for globally educated and certified nurses has never been higher.
Nowadays, whether you have recently qualified as a nurse in another country or have several years of nursing experience, immigrating to Canada can open up a world of opportunities. This article looks deeply into immigration programs for nurses, the provincial licensing process, and in-demand nursing jobs in Canada.
Reasons To Work As A Nurse In Canada
As an internationally trained nurse, relocating to Canada may be an appealing option for various reasons.
- 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 openings are available till 2028.
However, only 154,600 qualified candidates (including new graduates and newcomers) to fill these positions, resulting in a nationwide shortage of 36,500 registered nurses. Job openings for registered nurses, nurse aides, and patient service associates in Canada nearly doubled between 2019 and 2021.
- Nursing is a highly sought-after profession in the majority of provinces
Most provinces, including British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and Manitoba, highly demand nurses. Efforts are being made to recruit and train nurses and make it easier for internationally educated nurses to immigrate to Canada.
In its 2021 provincial budget, Ontario, for example, allocated $342 million to add 5,000 new 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 jobs in Canada generally pay well. The median annual salary for registered nurses here is around $76,000, but many RNs earn as much as $92,000.
Does Canada Accept Foreign Nurses?
Internationally educated nurses are critical to the smooth operation of Canada’s healthcare system. Several Canadian immigration programs determine the selection of newcomers for permanent residence in high-demand occupations such as nursing (PR).
However, before moving to Canada as a nurse and looking for work, you must be licensed in the province where you intend to work. Most provinces permit you to begin the remote licensing process, allowing foreign nurses to enter the labor force sooner.
Immigration Programs for Internationally Qualified Nurses
Newcomers to Canada who have the skills and qualifications required to bridge critical skill gaps are eligible to apply for permanent residence. You can move to Canada as a nurse through one of several PR programs.
Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program
The Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker program allows internationally qualified skilled workers to become permanent residents of Canada. Applicants for the FSW program are chosen based on their profile’s CRS (Comprehensive Ranking Score) and their occupation.
The CRS score of an individual is based on factors such as age, education, work experience, language proficiency, etc. It is easy to get additional points if they have a Canadian job offer, work experience, and educational credentials.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)
Except for Quebec and Nunavut, all Canadian provinces and territories have PNPs that allow them to nominate applicants with the skills and qualifications required to bridge labor shortages.
CRS scores are used to determine eligibility for Express Entry PNP streams. On the other hand, other PNP streams allow provinces to nominate skilled workers in particular professions or NOC (National Occupation Classification) codes to meet urgent market demand. You may stand a better chance of receiving a provincial nomination from a province needing qualified nurses. For relevant NOC codes for nursing, see the section on in-demand nursing jobs below.
As you prepare to immigrate as a nurse to Canada, keep the following PNP streams and draws in mind:
The province of British Columbia:
- B.C. Skills Immigration – Health Authority: For registered nurse practitioners or those with a full-time job offer from a public health authority.
- B.C. Skilled Worker Immigration: For a candidate with a permanent job offer in B.C. in a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3. There is also an Express Entry option for this stream.
- B.C. Skills Immigration – Entry-Level and Semi-Skilled: skilled workers in certain occupations, such as nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates, who have full-time job offer in British Columbia.
- Alberta Express Entry: qualified candidates from the Express Entry pool are eligible.
- Priorities for Express Entry Human Capital: For skilled workers with Express Entry profiles and the necessary work experience, education, and language skills.
- Employer Job Offer – In-Demand Skills: Foreign workers with job offers from an Ontario employer in an in-demand occupation.
- Express Entry French-Speaking Skilled Worker: For some skilled bilingual workers who meet the Express Entry requirements for work experience and qualifications.
- Skilled Workers in Manitoba: For skilled workers in Manitoba with a long-term, full-time job who have been with that employer for at least six months.
- Skilled Foreign Workers Overseas: For experienced foreign workers with skills in demand in the local labor market and a proven connection to the province.
- Nova Scotia Express Entry Labour Market Priorities: For Express Entry foreign workers who meet Nova Scotia’s labor market needs. This stream frequently has separate draws for registered nurses.
- Skilled Worker Stream: For skilled foreign workers and recent graduates with work experience in Nova Scotia and a full-time job offer.
- Internationally qualified candidates with at least a year of work experience and a full-time job in the province are encouraged to apply. Nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates are among the in-demand occupations in this stream.
Skilled Workers Stream:
- For foreign workers with the necessary skills, education, and work experience for the local labor market, as well as a full-time job offer.
- International Skilled Worker – Employment Offer: For highly skilled foreign workers with a job offer from a Saskatchewan employer in a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3.
- Saskatchewan Knowledge Health Professionals: For skilled nurses, physicians, and other health professionals who have been working full-time in Saskatchewan on a valid work permit for at least six months.
- International Skilled Worker – Specialized Skills Pilot: For entry-level or intermediate skilled workers in high-demand occupations in Saskatchewan who have a job offer. Nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates are among the most in-demand occupations.
Newfoundland and Labrador
- Priority Skills NL: For individuals with in-demand work experience, along with a high level of education and language ability. Priority occupations include nurse practitioners and licensed practical nurses.
- Express Entry in the Netherlands Skilled Worker: For qualified candidates with a high-skilled job or job offer from an employer in the Netherlands.
- Skilled Worker: For skilled foreign workers with a full-time job offer or currently employed in the Netherlands.
Prince Edward Island
- PEI PNP Express Entry: For qualified candidates who have applied through the Express Entry system.
- Outside PEI Skilled Worker: For qualified applicants with a job offer from a PEI employer in a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously skill type 0 or skill level A or B) occupation.
- Occupations in Demand: For intermediate skilled workers with a full-time job offer from a PEI employer in an in-demand occupation, such as nurse aides, orderlies, or patient service associates.
- Express Entry Northwest Territories: For qualified candidates with an Express Entry profile.
- Skilled Worker: Qualified individuals with the necessary training, qualifications, and experience to fill labor market gaps.
- Entry-level/Semi-Skilled Occupations: For foreign nationals with intermediate skills who have worked full-time in these territories for 6 months at least.
- Yukon Express Entry (YEE): For Express Entry applicants with a full-time, year-round job offer from an eligible Yukon employer.
- Skilled Worker: For applicants with a full-time job offer in a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously skill type 0 or skill level A or B) occupation from an eligible Yukon employer.
- Critical Impact Worker: For applicants who have received a full-time job offer from Yukon in a NOC TEER 4 or 5.
Quebec Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP)
The Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP) enables the provincial government of Quebec to invite applicants with the necessary skills, training, experience, and language skills to work and settle in the province.
Under the RSWP, applicants in all occupations can submit an Expression of Interest. The selection process considers age, language proficiency in French and English, years of experience, education, and other factors. If you are chosen, you will be given a Quebec Selection Certificate (also known as a Certificat de sélection du Québec or CSQ) and can apply for permanent residence with the IRCC.
Types Of Nursing Licenses In Canada
Nursing is a regulatory occupation in Canada, and before you can work as a nurse, you must be licensed by your province or territory. Most provinces allow you to start the licensing process even before one’s arrival in the country.
There are three main types of nursing licenses in Canada, based on level of skill required, education, as well as job responsibilities:
Nurse Practitioner (NP): To be eligible for an NP license, one must have a master’s degree in nursing specializing in adult, pediatric, or primary healthcare. As well as work experience as a registered nurse (or equivalent). Some jurisdictions consider the NP license to be an extension of the Registered Nurses license. For this, applicants must first register for or be eligible for an RN license before applying for the NP license.
Registered Nurses (RN) and Registered Psychiatric Nurses: If you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can apply for an RN license. You must show your recent nursing practice if you graduated more than 3 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 recent nursing practice.
The license names may differ depending on the province you apply to, and there may also be entry-level licenses for nursing students or recent graduates. Some provinces, such as Alberta and British Columbia, have a separate licensing process for Registered Psychiatric Nurses.
A single college in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia regulates all categories of nurses. Different nursing categories have their regulator in all other provinces and territories.
How to obtain a license in Canada as a foreign-trained nurse
After determining your eligibility, you must apply for the appropriate nursing license. First, you must obtain a National Nursing Assessment Service report, register with your provincial regulator, submit the necessary documentation, and pay a licensing fee. Although licensing requirements vary by province/territory, the following steps are typically involved:
Registration with National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)
Before coming to Canada, internationally certified nurses who qualify for an RN, RPN, or LPN license must complete an online National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) application. The following are the essential steps for registering with the NNAS:
- Create an online account, pay the application fee, and begin your application: Choose one nursing category and a specific province for your application and pay the USD 650 application order fee plus taxes. You have 12 months after paying the fee to complete all your documentation and submit your application.
- Please bring the following identification documents: Assigned copies of 2 identification documents, including one photo ID, passport, driver’s license, or other government-issued identification, must be submitted. Birth certificates, affidavits, and marriage certificates are also acceptable forms of identification.
- Send your nursing education form to Send printed copies of the form to each international institution where you studied nursing. The completed forms, along with the academic transcripts and description of the courses, must be sent directly to NNAS by the institutions. A separate Educational Credentials Assessment is NOT required for internationally qualified nurses (ECA).
- Send your nursing registration form to Print out copies of the form and send them to all licensing authorities where you were registered as a nurse outside of Canada. The licensing authorities must complete the form and send it directly to NNAS.
- Send in your nursing employment application: Printed copies of this form should be sent to all employers you’ve worked for in the last five years. Your employers must send the completed forms directly to NNAS.
- Submit your language test results: If English or French is not your first language, you must take a language test (IELTS, CELBAN, or TEF) and meet the minimum score threshold. If you live 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.
NNAS(National Nursing Assessment Service) will evaluate your foreign nursing credentials along with comparing them to Canadian qualifications for licensing purposes. It will also review your identification documents, work experience, language test results, and other important paperwork. NNAS will then prepare and send to your provincial regulatory authority a report on your nursing education, registration history, and experience.
How to apply to register yourself as a nurse in your province
After completing your NNAS application, contact your provincial or territorial regulator and request that your nursing license application be considered. Only after receiving your file from NNAS will the regulator begin the process. At this stage, you must pay an initial application fee, which would vary by province and nursing category.
Furthermore, the provincial regulator will review the nursing education credentials, evidence of recent practice (work experience within the last three years), and proof of language proficiency. If your application does not meet the licensing requirements, you may be required to complete additional training or evaluations before being considered.
To be eligible for a provincial nursing license, you must also:
- You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident or have the right to work in Canada.
- You must pass the Registration Examination for the applicable nursing category to demonstrate your competency. RN license candidates must take the NCLEX-RN exam (National Council Licensure Examination), while 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 the province.
- Declare any mental or physical conditions or disorders that may impair your ability to practice nursing.
- Submit a criminal background check report and disclose any previous offenses or instances in which you were denied registration as a nurse in any country.
- After you’ve completed all of the licensing requirements, you can pay the registration and first-year membership fees online and complete your registration.
How Much Money Do Canadian Nurses Make?
Nurses’ average salaries vary by province, specialty, and years of experience in Canada. Registered nurses(RN) and registered psychiatric nurses earn a median wage of $40/hour in Canada.
With the highest median wages in Nunavut ($67.83/hour), the Northwest Territories ($53.23/hour), and the Yukon ($53.23/hour).
Yukon ($45.28/hour), and Saskatchewan ($44.23/hour). Hourly wages of more than $50 are common in areas of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Manitoba, where the shortage of (RN) Registered Nurses is severe.
In Canada, nurse practitioners earn a median wage of around $53.37 per hour, while licensed practical nurses can earn between $22 and $33.23 per hour.
Ways To Find Nursing Jobs In Canada
Because most provinces allow you to complete the nursing licensing process 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:
Get familiarized with the Local jobs
The skills and qualifications that Canadian employers seek in nurses may differ from those required in your home country. Reviewing job postings in your nursing category is the simplest way to identify skill gaps and suitable job opportunities. Some job descriptions, for example, may specify that applicants must have specific certifications or training to work in a specific field of expertise. These can be a good place to start when preparing for the job market.
Acquire additional qualifications and skills
You should invest in additional certifications and skill-building programs to position yourself as a strong candidate for nursing jobs in Canada. Some desired certifications, such as basic life support, CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), and first-aid, can be obtained before obtaining your RN/LPN license.
A Canadian-style nursing resume would make you outshine
Your home country’s resume formats may not be appropriate for the Canadian job market. Your level of practical nursing experience will determine the best format for your resume. Many Canadian employers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to shortlist resumes, so make sure to tailor your resume to each job and include keywords from the job description.
Explore various job platforms
Job boards like Job Bank, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, GrabJobs, and Indeed are excellent places to look for work. In addition, please make a list of hospitals, healthcare providers, and non-profit organizations that hire nurses and keep an eye on their career pages on their websites.
Build yourself professionally
In Canada, networking is essential for nurses. Connect with nurses and healthcare professionals in your province through LinkedIn or professional associations, and cultivate meaningful relationships through one-on-one coffee chats. Another excellent way to meet healthcare professionals in your area is to volunteer. Networking gives you access to job opportunities that may not be publicly available. It allows you to gather information about specific employers’ licensing processes, job markets, and hiring processes.
The recruitment process for nursing jobs in Canada
Employers in Canada select candidates for nursing interviews based on their resumes and cover letters. Although many healthcare employers fill open positions through referrals from their network or by advertising the vacancy, some organize open interview days where qualified nursing candidates can walk in.
The first round is typically 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 assess your soft skills and team fit.
Following your selection, the employer will conduct background and reference checks to confirm your identity, credentials, nursing license, employment history, and past behavior. Finally, the employer will offer you employment, which you can accept or reject depending on the terms.
Should you move to Canada as an internationally educated nurse?
Qualified nurses are in high demand in all provinces across Canada, and the local supply is insufficient to meet labor market demands. As an internationally trained nurse, Canada’s immigration programs provide you with an exciting and financially rewarding opportunity to relocate to Canada and settle permanently.
However, the licensing process can take time, and you may need to complete some provincial examinations or additional education before you can work as a licensed nurse in Canada.
Discover how Dynamic Group can assist you in obtaining one of the Nursing jobs in Canada for Indian Nurses.
Nurses who pursue a career abroad are making excellent decisions for their future. This career choice is assisting them in growing as individuals by broadening their skill set and developing confidence in a new culture. Nurses who choose to work abroad benefit the global health community by increasing the demand for their skills.
To summarize, numerous excellent opportunities exist for individuals interested in working in the nursing industry. Nursing professionals should consider working abroad because countries compete for the limited available labor due to the global shortage.