The Need for Immigrant Nurses in New Brunswick
The province of New Brunswick (NB) in Canada is in dire need of immigrant nurses to address the growing nursing labour shortage. As part of the recently launched Nursing Resource Strategy, the province is actively recruiting Registered Nurses (RNs) from countries with nursing education programs that align with New Brunswick’s professional standards, competencies, and credentials. This initiative aims to fill up to 4,376 RN jobs in New Brunswick by 2028, as the province grapples with a rapidly aging population and a “critical demographic situation.”
Aging Population and Its Impact on New Brunswick’s Healthcare System
New Brunswick has the highest percentage of population over 65 years of age compared to the rest of Canada, making it the fastest-aging jurisdiction in the country. This demographic shift is placing immense pressure on the province’s healthcare system, with an increasing demand for health services and long-term care. The Nurses Association of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Nursing Association are both actively working to address this critical issue.
In addition to the aging population, the nursing workforce is also aging, with 41% of RNs in New Brunswick being 50 years of age or older. The province is further challenged by a decline in enrollment in bachelor of nursing programs and a 30% attrition rate for nursing students. Consequently, the province’s Ministry of Health projects a shortage of at least 130 RNs each year over the next decade, resulting in a deficit of approximately 1,300 RNs in the healthcare system by 2028.
The Nursing Resource Strategy: A Comprehensive Plan to Tackle the Nursing Shortage
To combat the nursing shortage and ensure the provision of high-quality care in a patient-centric healthcare system, the Nursing Resource Strategy has identified four priority action items. These include:
- Recruiting internationally educated nurses (IENs) to fill the growing demand for RN positions in New Brunswick. This process involves offering permanent employment (full-time and part-time) and the possibility of a signing bonus in exchange for a three-year commitment to serve in rural areas of the province.
- Establishing a program to help IENs find work in New Brunswick’s healthcare sector while their applications for registration are in progress. This would allow for a positive integration into the workforce and alleviate the pressure on the province’s healthcare system.
- Actively collaborating with the Nurses Association of NB, the New Brunswick Nursing Association, and other stakeholders to implement the Nursing Resource Strategy effectively.
- Utilizing the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP) to search the federal Express Entry pool for skilled candidates who meet the requirements. The NBPNP’s Express Entry-linked New Brunswick Labour Market Stream will enable the province to recruit, assess, and select skilled immigrants under federal economic immigration programs, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Class, the Federal Skilled Trades Class, and the Canadian Experience Class.
Conclusion: A Collaborative Effort for a Stronger Healthcare System
The province of New Brunswick is at a crossroads, facing a declining nursing workforce while demand for their services continues to increase. By actively recruiting immigrant nurses and implementing the Nursing Resource Strategy, New Brunswick aims to strengthen its healthcare system and provide high-quality care for its aging population. The Nurses Association of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Nursing Association, and other stakeholders are working together to address this critical issue and ensure a brighter future for the province’s healthcare sector.