While our province prepares to send a delegation to the Philippines to recruit healthcare workers, there are some questions about the plan. 

Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen says it is not only Manitoba dealing with a shortage of healthcare workers. 

“So, we brought in, even before the budget consultations, brought in a $200 million support package to recruit and retain medical professionals, particularly for nurses,” he says. “I know that there's a delegation soon heading to the Philippines on a recruitment exercise for healthcare workers as well. So, a lot of different things that are being looked at, but clearly a difficult challenge because that's happening right around the world.” 

Greg Carlos, president of the South EastMan Filipino Association (SEMFA), is a healthcare worker and says his family and friends in the Philippines are hearing about this opportunity to come to Manitoba. 

“My cousins and my relatives back home, they are really interested in coming here because the initiatives that they have, or the perks or benefits that they're offering right now is just super,” says Carlos. 

He believes Manitoba would be more attractive if the province changed its requirements for getting the credentials to work in our healthcare system. 

“We have so many Filipinos right now, here in Steinbach, they got their license in Ontario first because they can't get their credentials here in Manitoba because of the requirements that they have,” Carlos explains. 

Does the Philippines have enough healthcare workers to spare? 

“Actually, the number of graduates in the Philippines has been declining for the past few years,” he says. “Since the pandemic, some nurses in the Philippines have changed careers because of the fear of COVID but a high percentage of Filipino nurses are already in different countries like the Middle East, United Kingdom, Germany and of course the United States. So, they could practice their profession with fewer requirements and of course with higher pay.”

While there may be fewer healthcare graduates in the Philippines, Carlos says there is a strong desire to re-locate and start a new life in another country. 

Carlos appreciates Manitoba offering this opportunity to Filipinos. 

“Overall, Manitoba is the best province to build a career and start a new life,” he says. “We also have a low cost of living which is a significant factor for newcomers, unlike different provinces or areas in Canada.  I don't know if you know, we have 85,000 Filipino in Manitoba which will help them to adjust, and they can quickly build their network and get help from the Filipino communities like SEMFA. And regarding the support from the government, I think it's very crucial right now for the Filipino back home to come here to enhance their skills and of course their knowledge when it comes to treating or helping other people.” 

While Carlos is excited about this opportunity for Filipino healthcare workers to move to Manitoba, he would like to see our province remove some of the barriers that prevent immigrants who are already here from obtaining the required credentials to work in the healthcare field in Manitoba.