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Canada desperately needs additional healthcare workers to work in Canada. Express Entry healthcare draws were introduced in 2023 as one of the levers at the disposal of the Government of Canada to attract and retain these badly needed nurses, physicians, dentists, and other healthcare workers.

Express Entry, as the name implies, fast-tracks immigration applications. Canada’s immigration department, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to process the majority of applications within six months, meaning there should only be six months between application and approval for permanent residency, though this is not guaranteed.

Why move to Canada as a healthcare worker?

Every year, healthcare workers from around the globe choose Canada for its high quality of life, overall safety, and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.

Canada is world-renowned for its healthcare system, which makes it an ideal place for healthcare professionals to launch their careers. Labour market insights for healthcare workers reveal the scope of labour shortages and worker prospects across Canada.

Canada is constantly recruiting healthcare professionals, as the sector is vulnerable to labour shortages. It is estimated that about 500,000 healthcare workers in Canada will retire within the next decade. Meanwhile, the national population is increasing. Put these trends together, and it’s clear why Canada is looking abroad for healthcare workers of all kinds. As of 2022, immigrants accounted for one out of every four healthcare sector workers in Canada. This share is set to increase over time.

Canada’s labour shortages could be your opportunity. Express Entry healthcare draws prioritise healthcare workers for permanent residency, which comes with the right to live anywhere in Canada and not be tied to any specific employer. Accompanying family members can also settle in Canada with the principal applicant.

So, how can you take advantage of Express Entry healthcare draws — the new Canadian immigration pathway for health workers? Use the jump menu below to easily navigate this page, and find the information you need to start your healthcare career in Canada.

How to become eligible for Express Entry healthcare draws

Before you can be eligible for healthcare draws, you need to be eligible for an Express Entry-managed program.

To clear up a common misconception, Express Entry is not an immigration program in itself. Officially, it is an immigration application management system that uses an expression of interest intake model for a few Canadian immigration programs.

To immigrate, you must submit your profile to the pool of candidates so that Canada knows you want to immigrate. Then, Canada invites you to apply for permanent residency if you meet certain conditions, including a points total based on various factors. You do not apply for immigration through Express Entry until you receive an ITA (Invitation to Apply) from IRCC in an Express Entry draw.

IRCC will only accept your profile into the Express Entry pool if you are eligible for one of the following immigration programs:

From there, based on the documents and information you send showcasing your work experience, education, age, and official language ability, you will receive a score on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

Your CRS score is an important factor as to whether you receive an ITA in a round of invitations, also known as a draw. When IRCC holds an Express Entry draw, it issues invitations to the highest-scoring candidates.

In an all-program draw, IRCC only invites the top-scoring candidates in the pool. In a category-based draw, IRCC invites the top-scoring candidates who may meet the eligibility criteria of the draw’s category.

Healthcare Express Entry draws are category-based draws. To be eligible for the health worker category, you need at least six months of full time work experience in an eligible occupation within the past three years. See the list of eligible occupations in the section below.

To put those in simple steps:

  1. Submit a profile into the Express Entry pool
  2. Make sure you can prove that in all your qualifying work experience you have at least six months of eligible experience in healthcare (within the 3 years of being issued an ITA and IRCC receiving your application)
  3. Wait for an ITA (or take steps to improve your points total, and thereby your chances of receiving an ITA)
  4. Respond to the ITA with your application for permanent residency

From there, you will wait for a decision from an IRCC officer. If you are approved, you can become a permanent resident of Canada.


Eligible occupations for Express Entry healthcare draws

In order to be eligible for Express Entry Healthcare draws, you must have at least six months of full time (or the equivalent in part time) paid work experience within the three years of being issued an ITA and when IRCC receives your application for Canadian permanent residency. See the Government of Canada website for official instructions to IRCC officers processing category-based applications.

The following table contains the most up-to-date list of eligible occupations. Remember that Canada may change these occupations in response to labour market conditions.

Healthcare draw occupations

Express Entry healthcare draws history

Canada officially began holding healthcare draws in June 2023. See the following table for the complete history of healthcare Express Entry draws.

Healthcare draw history

Canada jobs in healthcare

The process of working in healthcare in Canada for foreign-trained workers is sometimes tricky due to credential recognition issues. The healthcare sector is regulated by the provincial and territorial governments in many instances.

While policies have been changing over the years to address credential recognition for foreign-trained healthcare workers, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the regulatory body for your profession in the province where you would like to work.

Here are a few examples of the overarching national organizations that handle healthcare professions in Canada. They should give you a good start on what you need to know for your particular practice:

Overall, Canada offers healthcare workers a combination of a high-quality healthcare system, an inclusive society, and various opportunities for personal and professional growth. The country’s commitment to quality healthcare and the well-being of its population makes it an excellent choice for anyone seeking a fulfilling career in healthcare.

Start Right with Scotiabank

As you plan your move to Canada, make sure you keep your finances front of mind and choose a bank that is available to support you through your journey.

With the Scotiabank StartRight® Program you can earn up to $1,800* in value during your first year as a newcomer.

From helping you understand banking basics to finding the right advisor, setting financial goals and more — the StartRight™ Program will help make banking in Canada easier.

Book an appointment with a Scotiabank Advisor.

Legal Disclaimer

Value of up to $1,800 is calculated as follows: i) up to $583.30 first year value with the StartRight Program + ii) Up to $1,237 in Preferred Package and Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite welcome offer and first year point earn potential:

1. Value of up to $583.30 is an annual potential value for the first year based on the following benefits and savings available to StartRightTM customers as of November 1, 2023:

  • $203.40 in account fee savings for a Preferred Package chequing account ($16.95 monthly account fee waived for first 12 months);
  • $280 in fee savings when compared to in-branch Swift Wire Transfers (assumes an annual average of 7 in-branch Swift Wire Transfers at $40 per transfer);
  • $99.90 in fee savings for 10 free equity trades with iTRADE (10 free equity trades per year at $9.99/trade);

Actual value will depend on individual usage of the StartRight™ Program features and products. Conditions apply. All products and features are subject to change.

2. Value of up to $1,237 in Scotiabank welcome offers and first year point earn potential includes the following offers as of November 1, 2023:

  • $550 ($350 cash offer for new Preferred Package customers + $50 when you open a new TFSA or RRSP & set up a pre authorized contribution + $150 when you deposit $3,000 into a new registered plan);
  • $350 value for new Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite customers who can earn up to 30,000 bonus Scene+TM* points plus $50 annual fee waiver on your first supplementary card;
  • $287 in first year point earn potential (28,733 Scene+ points) on everyday purchases based on average annual first year spend per account with an average spend of 19% in 2x accelerator categories.

Actual offers and rewards earned will depend on individual card usage and eligibility for applicable offers. Conditions apply.

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