Province offers funding to help internationally trained nurses get Manitoba certification

Plan offers up to $23,000 per nurse to cover costs associated with recertification

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The Manitoba government has announced plans to speed up the process of getting internationally educated nurses into the workforce.

The plan calls for post-secondary institutions in Manitoba to increase the number of nursing education seats from more than 800 currently to around 1,200, over the next few years.

The province says it will offer up to $23,000 per person in financial and process supports for internationally educated nurses who want to become licensed to practice here.

Health Minister Heather Stefanson made the announcement on Wednesday, along with Economic Development and Jobs Minister Ralph Eichler and Wayne Ewasko, the minister for advanced education, skills and immigration.

The last 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic “have shown us just how critical it is that we support those who want to get into the nursing field by making sure they have access to the education they need to be able to do so,” said Ewasko.

The funding will cover a variety of costs involved in the certification process, including clinical competence assessments and bridge training, living allowances, transportation and child care. 

English language skills training for those who need it will also be covered by funding, said Eichler.

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The province will work with the six post-secondary institutions in Manitoba that offer nursing education to work out how to increase their seat capacity “in a sustainable way,” said Stefanson.

Ewasko said the province doesn’t know how many internationally trained nurses in Manitoba may be eligible to take advantage of the funding. Officials will work with community organizations and other stakeholders to identify potential candidates, he said.

Won’t solve immediate problems: union

Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson welcomed the increase in education spaces and funding for internationally trained nurses, but said the announcements “offer only a partial and delayed solution” to the pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Exhausted nurses will have to continue until 2023 and beyond before those students are ready to shoulder some of the burden,” she said in an email.

Recruitment and retention became major issues in the latest contract negotiations between the union and the Manitoba government. A strike was averted after the province agreed late last month to go to binding arbitration if bargaining is unsuccessful.

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