More than 300 health-care workers from the Philippines have accepted jobs in Manitoba, province says

More than 300 already-trained health-care workers from the Philippines have accepted offers to come work in Manitoba, the provincial government says.

The offers were given to 348 health-care workers who were interviewed and passed a screening process during a five-day recruitment mission to the Philippines in February, the province said Tuesday.

The workers are expected to take jobs in 31 different Manitoba communities after they complete immigration and licensing requirements, Manitoba Labor and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes said.

“Manitoba is an immigration destination of choice for the Philippines and has a long history of recruiting health-care providers from the Philippines,” Reyes said during a news conference.

“We look forward to welcoming these individuals who will contribute to … our communities as well as the health-care workforce in our province.”

The people recruited will fill roles in the health-care system as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and health-care aids, a spokesperson for Manitoba Shared Health said.

Those recruited met a series of education, work experience and language requirements determined by the province, which included holding a bachelor’s degree in nursing and having a minimum of two years experience working in an acute care or long-term care facility.

A first series of clinical competency assessments — a requirement to work as a nurse in Manitoba — is expected to occur in early July, with the assistance of nursing faculty assessors from the University of Manitoba who will travel to Manila, Philippines, for these tests.

A 3rd coming to Winnipeg

Once they’ve passed those assessments, the hope is that the new health-care workers can start working “very, very quickly,” Health Minister Audrey Gordon said at Tuesday’s news conference.

Of the 309 people who have accepted job offers, 116 are expected to work with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg, which is a Shared Health facility, the provincial health agency’s spokesperson said.

Another 64 will work in the Prairie Mountain health region, 44 in Southern Health, 48 in the Interlake-Eastern health region and 37 in the Northern health region.

A man spoke at a news conference, while flanked by two government cabinet ministers.
Ken Borce, chief of clinical operations for CancerCare Manitoba, speaks at a news conference about the upcoming arrival of new Filipino health-care workers. Borce, who is of Filipino descent, was part of Manitoba’s recruitment drive. (Ian Froese/CBC)

Ken Borce’s family moved to Manitoba more than a decade ago. After being educated as a nurse in the Philippines, she became a nurse in Winnipeg and is now the chief of clinical operations at CancerCare Manitoba.

Borce was part of Manitoba’s health-care recruitment mission to his native country.

“My story is one of the many successes here in Manitoba, and I am truly thrilled that so many of the people I spoke to earlier this year will be making the move to join our workforce in the coming months and have their own success stories here in our province,” he told the news conference.

Monika Warren, chief nursing officer for Shared Health, said she’s confident the new hires will be able to clear any immigration and licensing hurdles.

“We selected candidates that we believed would be successful. There were some candidates that were screened out, some who we didn’t even interview because we felt they had too big of a hill to climb, as it was,” she said at Tuesday’s newsconferencing.

Anecdotally, health officials have determined that half of the new hires have family connections in Manitoba, so the province tried to place them in communities where they had friends and/or family, Warren said.

They’ll also be set up with mentors at work and will get help with finding accommodations, she said.

New arrivals need support

Darlene Jackson, the head of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said the new hires are a good step toward addressing a critical shortage of nurses in the province, but said she worries they may not get the support they need to succeed.

“We have nurses who have [been] educated in Canada, educated in Manitoba, brand new nurses who are coming into the profession … and are telling us they feel like they’ve been pushed off a pier,” she said.

“So I think it will be difficult to support these newcomers to Canada when we can’t support our own nurses in our own facilities.”

In February, Reyes and other provincial officials traveled to the Philippines to attempt to recruit nurses from that country, and ended up giving letters of intent to 350 people.

The recruitment trip faced criticism from some officials in the Philippines because the country is facing its own serious shortage of nurses.

Some internationally educated nurses in Manitoba and the organization that represents them have also criticized the international recruitment efforts, saying the province should focus on nurses already in the province who are having difficulty getting registered.

Gordon said the province has been working to streamline the accreditation process to help those nurses, as well as promote the different pathways available to get licensed and work in Manitoba. That includes organizing virtual forums, she said.

“The pathways are available, but we need to make sure that they are aware of those opportunities,” said Gordon.

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