Ontario to deploy internationally trained nursing students to help with health care staffing shortages

More than 1,200 applicants have expressed interest in the initiative

In a response to staffing shortages and absenteeism in the health care system, the province says it’s collaborating with Ontario Health (OH) and the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) on initiatives to deploy internationally trained nursing students to hospitals and long-term care homes. 

In an announcement on Tuesday, Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, said international nurses who have applied to practice in Ontario will have the opportunity to meet requirements by working in health care settings under the supervision of a regulated health care provider. 

“Expanding opportunities for internationally educated nurses is just one more way Ontario is bolstering its health care workforce,” Elliott stated to the media. 

The health minister says more than 1,200 applicants have expressed interest in the initiative and will be matched with hospitals and long-term care homes later in the week. 

Related: Nearly half of Ontarians in hospital with Covid were admitted for other reasons

Since March 2020, the government has launched emergency programs that have added over 6,700 health care professionals to the system.

The province says these programs will provide hospitals with the capacity to add another 6,000 additional providers to support staffing pressures by March 31, 2022.

Elliott also said the province still has 600 ICU beds available, and the ability to add nearly 500 additional beds if necessary.

All of this is happening on the heels of a release earlier Tuesday reporting 3,220 patients in hospital with COVID-19 in Ontario. The province also noted 477 people are in ICUs – up from 438 patients Monday and 266 one week ago. 

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