A critical shortage of employees in Nova Scotia long-term care homes demonstrates the growing need for immigration in Atlantic provinces.
With declining fertility rates and an ageing population, Atlantic provinces, including Nova Scotia, are facing a population crisis. With this also comes a larger gap in labour and skills. To help Atlantic provinces increase their population and fill labour market gaps, Canada introduced the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program in 2017; Immigration, Refugee, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced earlier this year that they will make the program permanent.
Employers aren’t getting enough applicants
A recent report released by the Memorial University of Newfoundland found that, in the past three years, over half of Atlantic employers had difficulties hiring. Among the main reasons cited for these difficulties was a lack of applicants. However, of the Atlantic employers that had received applications from immigrants or international students, more than half of them hired such applicants.
One industry heavily impacted by the population crisis is long-term care homes in Nova Scotia. These employers were facing an employee shortage, even before COVID-19. The pandemic has only exacerbated this issue, as the work becomes even more emotionally and physically demanding.
To mitigate hiring challenges, some employers are getting creative with the immigration programs they are using to recruit foreign skilled workers.
Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) program
One long-term care home in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia looked to skilled workers from refugee camps to ease their labour shortage. Glen Haven Manor worked with the United Nations and NGOs to recruit employees under the Economic Mobility Pathway Pilot (EMPP). The pilot was launched in 2018 with the goal of both serving a humanitarian purpose and filling gaps in Canada’s labour market. The care home hired five people under the program, the first being Khodor Ramlawi in December 2020. Ramlawi was living outside of a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon when he was recruited.
Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program
Each province has their own nominee program, which allows them to set the requirements for their immigration streams. Provinces often use these programs to help employers who cannot find local talent hire bring in skilled workers from abroad.
For example, Nova Scotia has programs specifically for applicants with job offers in in-demand occupations, including care-related occupations.
The province’s Occupations In Demand stream allows applicants with a full-time job offer with a Nova Scotia employer in NOC code 3413 (Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates) to apply to the province for nomination.
Most recently, Nova Scotia has also launched a nominee program for recent international graduates with in-demand skills and education. This program allows applicants with these skills a faster track to permanent residency without minimum work experience requirements.
As the workforce continues to age in the Atlantic provinces, hiring skilled workers becomes increasingly difficult. Therefore, immigrants are needed to replace retiring baby boomers and fill growing labour market gaps.