January 11, 2024

Canada’s Growing Demand for Healthcare Professionals through Express Entry

Canada, known for its immigrant-friendly policies, is taking significant steps in 2023 to address its labor market needs. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced category-based draws in the Express Entry system, with a keen focus on five crucial sectors, one of which is healthcare. In this blog, we'll delve into why Canada is actively seeking healthcare professionals, quantify the demand for them, and explore the promising prospects this opens up for potential immigrants.

Understanding the Need for Targeted Healthcare Workers

The Canadian healthcare system has been grappling with a persistent shortage of healthcare professionals, with physicians and nurses being particularly sought after. This scarcity has resulted in a significant impact on primary and emergency care services across the country. Notable instances include Niagara Health discontinuing overnight operations due to staff shortages, a hospital in Minden, Ontario permanently closing its local ER for the same reason, and an open letter from 180 ER doctors in Calgary highlighting the crisis in emergency care.

Canada has come to heavily rely on immigration to address these staffing shortages. In the last quarter of 2022, there were 143,695 job vacancies in the Healthcare and Social Assistance category, with a job vacancy rate of 6%. Moreover, a significant portion of Canada's healthcare workforce, with 36% of physicians and 25% of registered nurses, is born outside the country.

Foreign-trained medical professionals often face challenges in obtaining licensing in Canada, but the IRCC has taken steps to simplify the immigration process for these individuals. This has enabled foreign-trained healthcare professionals to find employment in their field, thus alleviating the labor shortages in the healthcare system.

Quantifying the Demand for Healthcare Workers in Canada

To gauge the demand for healthcare workers in Canada, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) utilizes the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS). This system provides insights into the occupational outlook for various professions and estimates the number of job openings in those fields from 2022 to 2031. The projected job openings for key healthcare professions include:

  1. Registered nurses and psychiatric nurses: 155,400 new job openings
  2. Licensed practical nurses: 27,800 new job openings
  3. General practitioners and family physicians: 48,900 new job openings
  4. Specialist physicians: 29,800 new job openings
  5. Nursing coordinators and supervisors: 23,100 new job openings
  6. Optometrists, chiropractors, and other health diagnosing and treating professionals: 17,900 new job openings
  7. Pharmacists: 16,100 new job openings
  8. Physiotherapists: 14,300 new job openings

These figures signify that Canada needs to welcome hundreds of thousands of skilled healthcare workers over the coming years to fill these job openings and address labor market needs.

Opportunities for Prospective Immigrants

Former Immigration Minister Sean Fraser acknowledged the need for more healthcare workers in Canada, stating that the healthcare system requires additional professionals to maintain the quality care that Canadians deserve. He revealed that Canada had welcomed around 21,000 healthcare workers between 2017 and 2022, averaging just over 4,000 workers annually. The IRCC now aims to double this number, welcoming around 8,000 new healthcare workers each year.

In addition to Express Entry's category-based draws, several provinces have initiated targeted streams within the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) specifically designed for healthcare professionals. For instance, Alberta has the Designated Healthcare Pathway under the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program.

This growing demand for healthcare professionals in Canada offers prospective immigrants the opportunity to make a significant impact on the healthcare system while pursuing fulfilling careers in the country.

Recent Healthcare Draws through Express Entry

As of 2023, the IRCC has already conducted two rounds of invitations for eligible Express Entry candidates with recent work experience in healthcare occupations. The first healthcare category-based draw occurred on June 28, 2023, with 500 immigration candidates receiving Invitations to Apply (ITAs). To be considered, candidates in this draw needed a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 476. Just eight days later, on July 6, 2023, a second draw for healthcare workers took place, inviting 1,500 eligible immigration candidates with a minimum CRS score of 463 to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

The Globe and Mail reported that ITAs issued under Express Entry will be between "nine to 12 percent" based on category-based draws for healthcare occupations.


Canada's commitment to addressing labor market gaps in the healthcare sector provides a golden opportunity for healthcare professionals looking to immigrate. With the ongoing category-based draws and provincial programs aimed at healthcare workers, Canada's healthcare system is set to receive the skilled workforce it urgently requires. Immigrants seeking a fulfilling career in healthcare and a chance to contribute to the well-being of Canadians have a clear path to follow through Express Entry and provincial programs. As the demand for healthcare workers in Canada continues to grow, prospective immigrants can expect a warm welcome and a promising future in the Great White North.

Seeking Guidance on Your Canadian Journey? Turn to Pelican Migration Consultants!

Embarking on your journey to Canada as a healthcare professional is an exciting opportunity. But navigating the immigration process can be challenging. That's where Pelican Migration Consultants comes in. Our team of experts is dedicated to helping you smoothly transition to your new career in Canada.

Whether you're a physician, nurse, or any other healthcare professional, we provide tailored guidance and support to ensure your application is seamless. We'll assist you in understanding the immigration requirements, preparing your documents, and optimizing your Express Entry Canada profile.

Don't let paperwork and procedures deter you from your dream career in Canada. Trust Pelican Migration Consultants to be your partner in this remarkable journey. We're here to help you make your move a success.