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New Brunswick nursing strategy prescribes immigrant RNs for growing labor shortage

New Brunswick’s health-care system, a new government report says.

The recruitment of internationally educated nurses (IENs) is one of four so-called “action items” that the province’s Nursing Resource Strategy says are needed to meet the accelerating demand for health services and long-term care among New Brunswickers.

The document notes that the province’s population is aging faster than any other jurisdiction in Canada, prompting what it calls a “critical demographic situation.”

“New Brunswick has one of Canada’s oldest populations and is aging at a greater rate than other jurisdictions,” it notes. “New Brunswick has the highest percentage of the population over 65 years of age when compared to the rest of Canada.”

The province’s nurses are not exempt from this trend — 41 percent of registered nurses (RNs) in New Brunswick is 50 years of age or older, the report says.

Combined with declining enrolment in the province’s bachelor of nursing programs and an attrition rate of 30 percent for nursing students, the province’s ministry of health projects a shortage of at least 130 registered nurses (RNs) each year over the next ten years.

“This means that by 2028 there could be a deficit of approximately 1,300 RNs in the New Brunswick health-care system,” the document notes.

During this same period, the estimated 4,376 RN jobs will open.

“The province finds itself at a crossroads where the number of nurses in the workforce is decreasing, and the demand for their services keeps increasing.”

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