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Opinion: Local health care vacancies being filled by nurses from the Philippines

Immigrants now count for one out of four health care workers

The recent announcement concerning the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot by Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, as reported by, had a few interesting pieces of information.

See: Immigration program made more flexible. Candidates no longer need proof of continuous eligible work experience

One was the fact that Alexander Likilasua and Brilla Kunjomon of Sault Ste. Marie are the first permanent residents in Canada accepted under RNIP. Both are working as licensed practical nurses in the city.

A second was that if there was a break in the one year of eligible work experience (1,560 hours) in the three years preceding their application they won’t be penalized for temporary work interruptions or layoffs caused by the pandemic. This has not been an issue with any of my clients.

But, for me, here was the kicker:  Immigrants now count for one out of every four health-care workers, make up to 36 per cent of all pharmacists and family physicians across Canada, as well as 39 per cent of all dentists, 27 per cent of all licensed practical nurses, and 35 per cent of nurses’ aides and related occupations.

We are seeing this play out in North Bay. My hunch is that we are pretty close to the national trends.

There is no doubt that the health care field is always looking for qualified people, and I am seeing many of them in my mask-wearing socially-distanced office. They all came here to attend Canadore College and then begin a new life in the North Bay health care sector.

I am seeing many Filipinas, and Filipinos, who were Registered Nurses in the Philippines, who came to Canadore to take health-related programs, and are now working as personal support workers or home care workers while they go through the process with the regulatory body to become nurses.

They speak English fluently, many came with a spouse and children, and now they are working in the city’s senior care facilities or in-home care. They will work in support roles until they get their Ontario accreditation to move up to nursing positions. Their support roles could well be filled by others coming from abroad behind them, with similar career goals.

The city is extremely fortunate to have these people and a college that has emphasized international student recruitment. Right now there are approximately 600 international students registered at the college. Watch for that number to grow significantly once the pandemic is behind us.

They are arriving here with Bachelor of Science degrees in Nursing and years of nursing experience. Many have a Master of Science degree. They want to raise their families in North Bay and RNIP is the perfect vehicle for them to realize their dreams.

They are not stealing anyone’s job. They are filling positions local employers cannot fill with the talent pool available. Right now they are renting apartments and homes. Soon they will be owning their own homes, and driving new vehicles purchased in the city.

Their children will be helping to combat declining enrolment. They will join clubs and volunteer in the community. This is starting to happen already and this is only year one of the RNIP pilot project.

I was sad to learn we have lost the original RNIP Coordinator, Patricia Carr, who left the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce to begin a new challenge as the executive director of NECO. Patti and her team got the project off the ground and she has now handed it off to Yves Kalala, who is working from the Yes Employment office on Main Street.

There is a three-step process in the city before applicants can even apply to IRCC for permanent residence.

First, they complete and submit a form to the coordinator to see if they qualify. Then their employer has to complete and sign a form, and finally, they attend an interview to seek a community recommendation to move the application forward. The process is explained on the project website at

If successful they then proceed with the laborious process of applying for permanent residence and pay the federal government a significant amount for the privilege. That process can take 12 months or possibly more, so it is heartening to see the two nurses in Sault Ste. Marie have been successful.

Expect similar success stories for North Bay.

Editor’s Note: Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant living in North Bay.

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Don Curry

About the Author: Don Curry

Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and president of Curry Immigration Consulting and a former journalism instructor
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