July 9, 2008

Pamela Cowan

REGINA — Internationally trained health-care professionals now have a road map to navigate their search for Saskatchewan jobs on the information highway.

Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris launched the first phase of the Internationally Educated Health Professional (IEHP) Web portal on Wednesday.

Immigrants can log on to www.immigration.gov.sk.ca/iehp for information about Saskatchewan life, job opportunities in the province and licensing requirements.

“Our goal here is to ensure that foreign health professionals have the information they need — an initial step in help addressing a broader labour force need and most importantly to help address and ensure that we’re building more dynamic, diverse and cosmopolitan communities across our province,” Norris said.

He noted that stakeholders have identified many continuing challenges for foreign trained health professionals to get accessible, clear and accurate information, especially with regard to credential recognition. To address the concerns, the site features links to health-care regulators, a checklist to facilitate the licensing process and links to health-care job listings.

“We’re currently developing a step-by-step guide to licensing in different fields and building upon lessons learned from a very similar guide which is already up and operational for the medical laboratory technologists,” Norris said.

Over the next two years, the information will expand. Norris hopes the portal will recruit and retain health-care providers.

“People are interested in coming to Saskatchewan. In fact some of them actually come here, then a whole series of questions begin to form about going through the regulatory process,” he said. “The key here is to make this as transparent and as easily accessible as early on as possible.”

He also envisions the site will speed up the immigration process to a six-month wait.

“Our goal is to get that time down as low as possible,” Norris said. “Right now it’s between six and 11 months for most coming through the provincial nominee program. Obviously it’s done co-operatively and collaboratively with the federal government and those are some of the lessons that I learned from being over in the Philippines and Ukraine (on recruitment missions). That partnership with our federal counterparts can’t be underestimated. It’s very, very valuable.”

About a year ago, Patricia Semey, a grad nurse from Ghana, came to the Queen City under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee program. She was impressed with the Web site, but said that access to it would be limited in West Africa.

“If you don’t know that anything like that exists then there’s no way that you can access it so information has to go out from here to Immigration in Ghana, for instance,” Semey said.

Rupen Pandya, assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour, said the site will be moved to an immigration portal that was announced a few months ago.

“The official launch of that portal will be some time in the fall of ’09 and essentially it will be a one-stop resource for immigrants who are thinking about coming to Canada and to Saskatchewan,” Pandya said.

Regina Mpundu, a registered nurse who came to Regina from Zambia in 2003, gave the site kudos for its wealth of information.

“It should be very helpful … Technology is more advanced here so there’s more things to learn so it makes the job interesting because every day you’re learning new things,” she said. “If anyone needs information, I’ll link them to the Web site.”

Health Canada contributed $50,000 in 2007-08 for the site and allocated $75,000 during 2008-09 to further expand the portal.

Reference: Regina Leader-Post