Lifted nursing rule gives little reprieve

Order relaxing restrictions for foreign-trained nurses won’t affect shortage: regulator

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An order from the health minister instructing the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba to lift a restriction for internationally educated nurses will result in a very small number being licensed, its registrar says.

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An order from the health minister instructing the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba to lift a restriction for internationally educated nurses will result in a very small number being licensed, its registrar says.

The compliance order issued by Health Minister Audrey Gordon will impact “possibly up to 10 nurses,” said Katherine Stansfield, the college’s registrar and chief executive officer.

“It’s not one that will have the kind of impact that the public is looking for and the ministry is looking for,” she said Friday as the Progressive Conservative party touted the order on social media.

Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press files

Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon issued a directive July 26 to the College of Registered Nurses to speed up accreditation of foreign-trained nurses.

“Our gov has issued a compliance order to immediately get more nurses in the system,” the post on Twitter said.

Stansfield said the college is complying with Gordon’s July 26 order to drop its requirement for testing internationally educated nurses who failed Manitoba’s clinical competence assessment then went to another province to get licensed.

The order says the college is violating labour mobility legislation by making those nurses who’ve been licensed in other provinces undergo further testing to be accredited in Manitoba.

Stansfield said the college has been complying with the Labour Mobility Act of Manitoba and licensing nurses registered in other provinces with the exception of those who didn’t pass the province’s competence assessment.

“The minister’s compliance order now directs us that we cannot ask for any further information about competencies if they’re registered in another jurisdiction — even if we have information in our files that we were wanting to verify in terms of competency,” she said, adding the “vast majority” of internationally educated nurses who come from another Canadian jurisdiction or directly to Manitoba meet those requirements.

“It’s not as though there’s a huge concern related to internationally educated nurses. That’s why they are such a valuable source of health care in our province.”

The 10 who didn’t pass Manitoba’s competency requirements have met requirements elsewhere, she said.

“Labour mobility (law) requires us to acknowledge that that registration is sufficient to guarantee that they are competent for practice,” Stansfield, a registered nurse, said. “That’s where we were of a different opinion, and we’ve now received the information from the minister and we intend to comply with it.”

The college has to monitor and measure risk while recognizing the challenges posed by the province’s shortage of nurses, she said.

“We will do our part but we will not lose sight of our mandate to protect the public interest.”

Gordon first notified the college on July 27, 2021, that she had concerns about the critical competence assessment and advised the college in November that the compliance order would be issued.

Gordon was not available for an interview Friday.

In a prepared statement, she said the government “will leave no stone unturned in exploring options to fill nursing vacancies in Manitoba…. The order we issued to the college opens the door to nurses who are registered in other Canadian provinces but have experienced difficulty being recognized here in Manitoba.”

Before it was issued, one such nurse — Philippines-educated Ronna Sigua — filed an appeal with the Manitoba college. She applied to register in 2013 and was told she needed to redo nursing school. Instead, she went to Quebec where she was licensed after completing a bridging program and passing an exam. When she tried again to register in Manitoba years later and was told she had to take the clinical competence assessment first, Sigua balked.

NDP immigration critic Malaya Marcelino said the health minister issuing the order is “important and long overdue.”

“The province should have acted decisively, sooner,” she said, adding it has to repair its reputation in order to attract more internationally educated nurses, Marcelino said. “Manitoba is currently suffering from a competitive disadvantage.”

The president of the Manitoba Nurses Union welcomed the order.

“The compliance order is one way to speed up the process of getting internationally educated nurses gainfully employed in our public health system,” a statement from Darlene Jackson said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Compliance order

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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