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Saskatchewan Is Developing Faster, More Efficient Pathway for Internationally Educated Nurses to Join Health-Care Workforce

Released on May 11, 2023

Timelines for International Nurses in Good Standing Reduced from Months to Weeks

Saskatchewan is developing a second phase of improvements to its pathway for Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) that will further accelerate timeframes. These changes offer more options and supports for overseas nurses preparing to enter the provincial health care workforce.

Continued improvement to the IEN pathway is part of the ongoing work of Saskatchewan's Health Human Resources (HHR) Action Plan to recruit, train, incentivize and retain more health care workers.

“Our made in Saskatchewan approach ensures our province will continue to lead the nation as one of the fastest, most supportive and most efficient places for internationally educated nurses to become licensed and gain employment in health care," Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “By focusing on a safe, balanced approach to licensing and integration into the workplace, as well as providing robust settlement supports, Saskatchewan will continue to be a preferred destination for health-care workers from around the world.”

Saskatchewan was the first province to introduce a streamlined and accelerated training, assessment and licensure pathway for IENs for overseas recruits in Fall 2022. Currently, 53 IENs from the Philippines and 9 IENs residing in Saskatchewan are in the bridging program. Nineteen Continuing Care Assistants (CCAs) and two Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLAs) from the Philippines have already arrived in the province.

Further enhancements to this pathway are now underway. The bridging program will be reflective of the strong partnerships built between the Ministries of Health, Immigration and Career Training and Advanced Education, as well as the collaborative efforts with the College of Registered Nurses of Saskatchewan (CRNS), the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS), the Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN), Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

“The CRNS is supporting the IEN recruitment mission by reviewing processes and making or supporting efficiencies where safe to do so,” College of Registered Nurses of Saskatchewan Executive Director RN Cindy Smith said. “While leaning on our values of collaboration and accountability, the CRNS maintains our mission to protect the public through regulatory excellence.

By September, Saskatchewan will be ready to implement a second series of improvements for IENs, including:

  • A shorter bridging program that will build on an applicant’s existing knowledge but also provide solid grounding and orientation to the Saskatchewan health-care system, reducing the transition process from approximately one year to 14 weeks;
  • An applicant-focused approach to support success, including:
    • language training supports to ensure this foundational requirement is met through online materials and workshops;
    • an expansion of options to establish language proficiency;
    • employer orientation specific to the facility and location;
    • access to clinical supports that will have experienced professionals available to provide support to new employees;
    • settlement assistance in collaboration with community groups; and
    • customized support through navigators.

Successful applicants who committed to this program received a return for service agreement. They also have costs covered for language and education assessments, bridging and/or training fees, fees related to professional exams and registration, and other costs incurred while training such as travel for clinical placement. In addition, costs for international recruits include transportation, accommodation and other settlement related costs, such as immigration fees.

“Nursing professionals are in great demand, and we support the Government of Saskatchewan helping nurses who have received training outside of Canada enter the province’s health care workforce more quickly,” Saskatchewan Polytechnic president and CEO Dr. Larry Rosia said.

The provincial government will continue working closely with partners, regulators and post-secondary institutions as this major initiative is developed and implemented.

“Saskatchewan is to be congratulated for introducing a truly innovative approach that supports IENs to enter the nursing workforce quickly and fully prepared,” National Nursing Assessment Service Executive Director Gayle Waxman said. “The pilot project demonstrates Saskatchewan has successfully removed barriers that IENs faced.  Steps that previously took years are now being completed in days and weeks.  NNAS is pleased to be part of this effort to create a faster transition process that supports IENs to be successful nurses in Saskatchewan.”

In addition to international recruitment efforts, the SHA is actively connecting with nursing students and recent graduates to promote employment opportunities. Since December 2022, the SHA has hired 186 grad nurses from the province and across Canada. A further 145 conditional job offers have been made to nursing students who will be graduating this spring.

Key 2023-24 Budget investments include an overall investment of nearly $100 million across government, to support Saskatchewan's four-point Human Health Resources (HHR) Action Plan to recruit, train, incentivize and retain more health care workers and physicians.

An $11.9 million investment will continue supporting work underway to recruit internationally educated health care workers, including regulatory assessments, navigator services and settlement supports.


For more information, contact:

Media Relations
Phone: 306-787-4083

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