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B.C. prioritizes health care, social workers in changes to immigration program

Amid staffing shortages in health care, B.C. is implementing a new program that prioritizes the immigration of skilled workers in that sector.
FILE – Cariboo Memorial Hospital staff were moved to tears Sunday evening, Sept. 19, when first responders drove past the hospital in a salute to health care workers, complete with lights and sirens. Health care workers in B.C. have faced increased pressures brought on by a fourth wave of COVID-19. (Angie Mindus video photo)

Amid staffing shortages in health care, B.C. is implementing a new program that prioritizes the immigration of skilled workers in that sector.

Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen said in a statement Thursday (March 11) that the goal is to place a greater focus on various kinds of health-care workers and social workers within the framework of the province’s immigration nominee program.

Changes also immediately provide a pathway to permanent residence for people already living in B.C. and working in these sectors, the province said.

In addition to prioritizing physiotherapists, pharmacists, nurses and other specialty practices, the province is also adding health-care assistants to the pre-determined list of in-demand jobs.

“Health-care assistants who support seniors in long-term care, assisted living and in their homes are among the most in-demand occupations in British Columbia, both today and for years to come,” said Terry Lake, CEO of the BC Care Providers Association.

“These important changes to the Provincial Nominee Program will help to meet the growing needs of the care economy, which in turn will benefit B.C. seniors and those who care for them.”

B.C.’s nominee program makes up about one-third of all immigrants who move to the province for work. In 2021, B.C. had an allocation of 6,750 nominations, and is expected to reach, or exceed that level in 2022.

This priority access for health-care workers makes up roughly three per cent of annual nominations, but is expected to increase by employer demand. That’s compared to tech-related jobs, which makeup 30 per cent of nominations.

The pre-determined list of health-care jobs includes:

Managers in health care

Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors

Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

Specialist physicians

General practitioners and family physicians



Allied primary health practitioners

Other professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating


Dietitians and nutritionists

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists


Occupational therapists

Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment

Medical laboratory technologists

Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants

Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

Medical radiation technologists

Medical sonographers

Cardiology technologists and electrophysical diagnostic technologists

Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)


Dental hygienists and dental therapists

Dental technologists, technicians and laboratory assistants

Practitioners of natural healing

Licensed practical nurses

Paramedical occupations

Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

Dental assistants

Nurse aides, orderlies and patient-service associates


Social workers

Family, marriage and other related counsellors

Social and community service workers


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