British Columbia makes changes to its Provincial Nominee Program to better support Health and other Care Occupations
On March 10, 2022, British Columbia announced changes to its Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), effective immediately. The program now gives priority access to foreign healthcare workers and early childhood educators for invitations to apply for a provincial nomination.
The BC PNP issues nominations to qualified foreign nationals who have registered with the program and scored enough registration points to receive an invitation to apply. If their BC PNP application is approved, a foreign national can move forward with a permanent residency application with the federal government. They can also obtain a work permit to work with their BC employer while they wait for a decision on their permanent residency.
There are several streams under the BC PNP. Prior to March 2022, the Skills Immigration – Healthcare Professional stream allowed eligible physicians, nurses and certain allied health professionals with a valid job offer from a public health authority to register. Should they obtain enough registration points, they would receive an invitation to apply through the program.
However, these healthcare professionals made up a small percentage of nominations. In BC PNP’s 2020 statistical report, of the 6,251 Skills Immigration nominations, 96 were issued to applicants under the Healthcare Professional stream. The nominations issued under this stream in 2019 and 2018 were similar, at 90 and 104 respectively. That equals only 2.8% of nominations in 2020, 2.5% in 2019 and 3.0% in 2018.
Since 2017, an increasing number of nominations have gone to occupations that fall under BC’s Tech Pilot program, now a permanent stream under the BC PNP. This program targets engineering, technology and digital entertainment industries. In 2020, there were 1,855 nominations under the Tech Pilot program, equal to 30% of all nominations.
Fast forward to 2020. Whether the BC government intended to make changes to fairly allocate invitations across more industries, the global pandemic highlighted the fragility of our healthcare system and other care industries. The severe labour shortage in these occupations needed to be addressed by new and urgent measures. One such measure was overhauling the BC PNP to better attract and retain foreign-trained and experienced healthcare and early childcare workers to BC.
Targeted Invitations of Health and other Care Occupations
The March 2022 changes give healthcare occupations and early childhood educators and assistants a better chance of an invitation to apply under the BC PNP program, with the hope the numbers of nominations issued to these professionals will increase in the years ahead.
- Targeted invitations to apply with a lower minimum score for healthcare professionals. Targeted invitations to apply for healthcare occupations occur regularly, with a lower minimum score compared to general draws for other skilled occupations. For example, the first targeted draw for skilled healthcare workers on March 14th saw a minimum score of 85, followed by a score of 78 on March 22nd. The minimum score for the next general draw was 112 or 128 for skilled workers.
- Early childhood educators and assistants have been added to in-demand list with targeted invitations. Veterinarians and animal health technicians have also been added to a priority list.
- Healthcare assistants and dental assistants have been added to the entry level and semi-skilled category, with targeted invitations. Healthcare assistants saw an invitation minimum score of 70 on April 5th, compared to a minimum score of 77 for other qualified semi-skilled workers.
- The Healthcare Professional stream has been replaced with the Health Authority category and is open to all occupations employed by a healthy authority.
- Two years of skilled experience in any occupation replaces the requirement of two years directly-related skilled experience to qualify under the skilled worker streams.
Over the past two months, approximately 380 nominations have been issued to healthcare occupations and early childhood educators and assistants through targeted draws. Surprisingly, early childcare educators and assistants make up 250 registrants who have received an invitation. BC PNP tech stream continues with a high number of invitations. It’s the general draw for skilled workers, international graduates and semi-skilled workers who have seen fewer draws and an increase in the minimum score required.
The change to BC PNP has been effective for the health and childcare industry. These invitations to date have likely captured those already in British Columbia who have had their experience and education credentials validated. Now comes the work to attract foreign nationals who are not yet in Canada and have an interest in immigration to our province. On April 19th, the government announced $12 million in spending to help internationally educated nurses get licensed in BC. We will see what additional measures are announced in the months ahead.
For now, if you are an employer in healthcare or early childhood education, your staff may qualify under the BC PNP. And if you hesitated to hire a foreign national previously, the BC PNP targeted draws gives you some reassurance that there is a pathway to both a work permit and permanent residency for a qualified candidate. We’ve seen a win-win for the tech industry under the BC PNP tech stream, and hope the same will occur for healthcare and childcare industry. It’s one step in the right direction to address a critical labour shortage.
If you would like to learn more about the BC PNP and recent changes, we are always happy to chat. Contact us here.