New Brunswick expanding navigator program in bid to add international health-care workers

Click to play video: 'N.B. to help connect foreign-trained health workers with employers'
N.B. to help connect foreign-trained health workers with employers
WATCH: New Brunswick is expanding a navigator program to help connect foreign trained workers with employers in the province. It's hoped the program will help ease the province's shortage of healthcare workers, but does nothing to address the recognition of out of country credentials. Silas Brown explains – Sep 27, 2022

A program intended to guide internationally-trained workers who want to move to New Brunswick is being expanded.

The navigator program had been helping connect nurses with employment and regulatory bodies in charge of credentials since 2019 and will now be expanded to include any registered profession including physicians.

Trevor Holder, the minister of post-secondary education, training and labour, says that the program has brought 200 nurses to the province since 2019.

“What we don’t want to hear any more of are folks who come to New Brunswick, they can’t figure out who they talk to first. That’s unacceptable, and more importantly, they may be working in a profession other than health care when they’re trained to do so,” Holder said.

But while the program can help ease the path for those looking to come to the province, it will not speed up the recognition of international credentials. Certified professions in the province include lawyers, barbers, nurses, physicians, accountants and many others. Each profession has an independent association that is responsible for regulating the credentials and necessary training needed to work in a given industry.

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Holder says a piece of legislation passed in the spring will compel those regulatory bodies to process applications in a reasonable amount of time and gives the government power to step in if it thinks an association is failing to do so.

Read more: New Brunswick says program recruiting internationally-trained nurses has been a success

“We expect them to … respond in a timely manner because time is of the essence here. We have some serious health care labour shortages that we all know about and this isn’t the time to rag the puck,” he said.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t feel that associations are moving quick enough, we now have legislation in place as of last spring, where we can come in and more or less bring them to the table.”

Holder wouldn’t define what he considers to be “a timely manner” for getting internationally trained workers certified.

Patricia Carvalho is a nurse originally from Brazil who trained in the United States. She has been working with a navigator since April 2021 and arrived in New Brunswick three months ago to begin working as a patient care attendant while she waits to be certified by the Nurses Association of New Brunswick.

Even though she was trained in the U.S. and has passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is also used to certify nurses in Canada, it will still be a few months before she will be able to work as a registered nurse.

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“For me it’s going to be a little easier because I was trained in the U.S. and I already took the NCLEX, but they found a gap in my education, so I still have to go through the process for the next two to three months, so hopefully I will have it by the end of the year,” she said.

Carvalho said the nursing navigator was instrumental in helping her navigate the immigration process and connected her almost immediately with Horizon for an interview.

The province is planning to add two more navigators, one that will be specifically geared towards health-care professionals and another for all other registered professions.

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