Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) chose Healthcare occupations among the five categories of occupations to prioritize through Express Entry category-based draws in 2023. Express Entry Health Occupation Draws were announced earlier in 2023. The program aims to support Canada’s labour market needs by selecting immigration candidates with particular qualifications, such as education and work experience.
IRCC chose after gathering feedback and suggestions from various stakeholders and the public five categories experiencing labour market gaps: healthcare, science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), transport, trades and agriculture/agri-food.
Category-based draws are similar to standard Express Entry draws but have minor differences. The standard Express Entry draws focus on a candidate’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score; however, category-based draws prioritize the candidate’s work experience in the chosen occupations.
The reason why healthcare was chosen as a targeted Express Entry category
Canada has been facing a chronic shortage of physicians and nurses in primary and emergency care.
For example, in May 2023, Niagara Health announced stopping service of overnight operations at its urgent care centers in southern Ontario due to a shortage of physician staff. Additionally, a Minden, Ontario, hospital had to permanently shut down its local emergency room (ER) due to the overwhelming strain on staffing resources.
Canada relies on immigration to fill job vacancies in the healthcare system. However, foreign-trained medical professionals think getting their licences in their specialties in Canada is challenging. Therefore, IRCC has made it easier for foreign-trained healthcare workers to immigrate to Canada. This allowed health occupation professionals to find work in their field and help with the labour shortages in the healthcare system.
Healthcare Occupation Express Entry draws
To date, IRCC has issued three rounds of invitations for eligible Express Entry candidates with recent work experience in healthcare occupations.
The first healthcare category-based draw took place on June 28, 2023. This draw saw IRCC issue ITAs to 500 immigration candidates with work experience in healthcare.
Candidates in this draw had to have a minimum CRS of 476 to be considered. The second draw was held on July 6, 2023, and 1,500 healthcare workers were invited by IRCC as immigration candidates (with a minimum CRS score of 463) to apply for permanent residence in Canada.
The third draw took place on October 26, 2023. The cut-off score was 431 (Healthcare occupations only), and 3,600 healthcare workers for ITA.
How many healthcare workers does Canada need?
According to the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), between 2022 and 2031, this number of job openings are announced in Canada;
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