Filipino nurses to be deployed in Saskatchewan

Regina, Saskatchewan

Canada Health Minister: ‘Our recruitment plan is working’

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

In an effort to reduce emergency room waiting times and give relief to overworked health workers in Saskatchewan, more than 70 nurses from the Philippines were hired to work in the province through a bridging program by the Health Ministry of Canada.

Health Minister Paul Merriman revealed some of them are already in Canada and should be working in the province in the new year.

In the meantime, the  province is also processing more than 3,000 applications from health-care workers in the Philippines. The Ministry of Health has an additional 40 applications from elsewhere in Canada who are being processed.

Opposition Leader Carla Beck (Regina-Lakeview) had expressed concern about Saskatchewan’s packed emergency rooms and overworked health-care workers.

But for the Health Minister, some of the solutions are already in place. 

“Our recruitment plan is working,” Merriman said during question period at the legislature in Regina last week, according to 

Merriman, along with deans and assistant deans from Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan, also left for the Philippines last Friday so the institutions could provide recommendations on the credentials the Filipino nurses will need to work in Saskatchewan.

Merriman will meet with representatives of the Philippine Government. 

The health minister says the province had already worked with the Philippine government over the summer to improve the province’s “bridging program.”

Bridging is the process of bringing nurses from the Philippines into Saskatchewan’s health-care system through programs that will ensure a smooth integration. 

“We’ve reduced that … from nine months and a lot of the bridging program actually happens back in the Philippines to be able to make sure when the individuals get here, they can get integrated into our system,” Merriman also told 

“Any new employee through the system is eligible for up to $50,000. Certainly, an RN, a nurse practitioner or a psychiatric nurse is eligible for that $50,000 if they go to one of those hard-to-recruit places. But we’re going to get them integrated into the system wherever needed as soon as possible,” he added. 

Merriman said the province is also offering health-care workers from out of the country $10,000 to help relocate their family.

In a statement to CBC News, the Ministry of Health said incentives being provided for internationally educated health-care workers include:

  • Out-of-pocket costs for internationally educated healthcare workers (IEHPs) from the Philippines (educational costs, language and training assessment, professional fees, settlement costs).
  • Educational costs and incentives for IEHPs located in Saskatchewan.
  • Settlement incentives and language courses for Ukrainian health-care workers.

Health workers from the Philippines are also eligible for incentives including training programs, licensing and resettlement costs, as are internationally trained workers already in Canada and seeking to be licensed in Saskatchewan.

The province also hopes to recruit laboratory and X-ray technicians.

To support their vision, Merriman says the ministry has partnered with Saskatchewan’s Filipino community to make the arrival of new health-care workers more smooth and welcoming.

“Right now what we’re trying to do is, once we have these professionals come in, we set them up in a way that they get compliance from Saskatchewan to get their [nursing] licence,” said Chris Rod, Saskatchewan chairman for the Filipino Canadian National Congress.

Rod says the organization will also help new Filipino recruits find housing, set up bank accounts and get settled in their new communities.

“We get them involved within the community there so that they don’t feel alienated by themselves,” Rod said.

He says the committee responsible for this process will have continuous communication with the new health-care workers: “We’ll always be there for them.”

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