Manitoba’s health minister has delivered a compliance order to the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba to reduce red tape for some internationally educated nurses hoping to work in the province.
It’s welcome news for local advocates looking to fill the nursing shortage. However, they say more work is needed.
In a Friday statement to Global News, the college said it will comply with Health Minister Audrey Gordon’s order, which will allow internationally educated nurses (IEN) licensed in other Canadian provinces to practise in Manitoba, without having to take a local competence examination again that they’d failed before.
“According to The Labour Mobility Act, applicants who apply for registration in Manitoba and are in good standing as a registered nurse in another jurisdiction in Canada, and engaged in practice, do not need to take the Clinical Competence Assessment (CCA), a tool that is used to identify gaps in an applicant’s knowledge,” the college said.
“The vast majority of applicants who applied for registration with the college from another jurisdiction were not required to take the CCA.”
Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson says it’s a positive step to ease the province’s nursing crisis.
“I think they’ve made a first move, but it’s a first of many,” Jackson told Global News on Saturday. “It’s a multi, multi-prong approach to this nursing shortage.”
However, the order will only affect a small number of applicants, the college continued.
But for Jackson, it’s a move in the right direction to alleviate overworked nurses in the public system — one with about 2,600 vacant nursing positions.
“We have to start turning this ship around right now, because if we don’t, I fear what our health-care system is going to look like in two years, three years, five years,” she said.
“We have nurses fleeing the system from all age groups. We also know that we have many, many nurses who have left the system and have gone to private for-profit agencies,” Jackson said. “I don’t believe that is good for patient care. I don’t believe it’s good for continuity, and it’s certainly not good for our public health system.”
Monika Feist with Success Skills Centre agrees the minister’s order is a positive step but adds the barriers for IENs don’t end there.
Feist’s organization helps immigrant professionals practise in Canada. She’s pushing for a clearer, more streamlined process.
“We need to be able to have individuals prepare in advance of coming, in other words, being assessed and told where they fit in the scheme of things,” Feist said Saturday.
Feist suggested some could begin the necessary language training overseas, while they’re still employed, as opposed to discovering they don’t meet the requirements after coming to Canada.
The province says it’s exploring every option to fill nursing vacancies in Manitoba, from improving immigration and recruitment processes to retention.
— With files from Abigail Turner