Saskatchewan increases budget to bring health care workers from the Philippines

Province also makes largest SINP allocation of 7,250 nominations

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

To support the province’s Health Human Resources (HHR) action plan, its 2023-2024 budget increased by $5.2 million to meet its targets for the said period.

These funds will support expansion of post-secondary training seats available to Saskatchewan students to address future needs in the health sector, initiatives to fill current vacancies through the licensing of internationally-educated health care workers already in Saskatchewan, and recruitment activities in the Philippines to bring internationally educated nurses to the province, the province’s news release said.

To recall, Saskatchewan’s delegation to Manila led by Health Minister Paul Merriman in December 2022 wrapped up its targeted health care recruitment mission by offering conditional employment offers to 128 registered nurses and one continuing care aide.

A primary focus of the mission was in-person interviews conducted on-site by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) while in the Philippines.

Aside from a pre-screening process and securing an interview in advance of the delegation’s arrival, the registered nurses who had the qualifications and experience attended the general information sessions.

The newly created Saskatchewan health system navigators will continue to assist Filipino health care candidates and provide follow-up information to the more than 1,000 prospective candidates identified by the mission.

For 2023, Saskatchewan also requested and received the largest allocation in the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program’s (SINP) history – 7,250 nominations. This increase will result in approximately 18,000 newcomers to the province including nominees, their spouses and dependents.

The 2023-24 Budget includes an increase of $5.4 million to support these additional newcomers with settlement supports and expanding the ministry’s capacity to process SINP applications on time. The SINP has some of the most competitive processing times in the nation and this budget increase will ensure the continued success of the program.

Saskatchewan’s budget also includes funding for the International Credential Recognition Grant, which provides support for expenses related to becoming licensed in a regulated healthcare profession. The program will pay up to $6,000 per applicant for costs such as bridging programs, language courses and exam fees.

The 2023-24 Budget also includes an increase of $300,000 to support labour mobility by reducing red tape faced by international workers and those in other provinces who come to work in regulated occupations in Saskatchewan. This funding supports the Labour Mobility and Fair Registration Practices Office to ensure regulatory bodies comply with the timelines for licencing decisions and other requirements in The Labour Mobility and Fair Registration Practices Regulations.

The Ministry of Immigration and Career Training will continue to provide a variety of programs and services designed to meet current and future labour market needs.

“Saskatchewan is full of opportunity for jobseekers and employers alike. With growing job numbers and one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, our province is the best place to live and work in Canada,” Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “We will continue to build on this success through a series of investments that bring the labour force and employers together to ensure a strong economy.”

This budget also supports the influx of displaced Ukrainians landing in Saskatchewan and provides more funding to community-based organizations for settlement services.

The Immigration and Career Training budget for 2023-24 also includes increases of $4.0 million to increase skilled trades training seats primarily in construction-related trades and $1.2 million or over 68 per cent for increasing the Apprenticeship Training Allowance for students living away from home to attend skilled trades training.

The programs, services and innovations delivered by the ministry play a vital role in advancing Saskatchewan’s progress toward its Growth Plan goals of 1.4 million people and 100,000 new jobs by 2030. The ministry is focused on working with employers and job seekers to ensure the province can recruit, train and retain the labour force Saskatchewan needs to support its growing economy, its news release added.

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