Special designation to be granted for international nurses waiting on English tests: Friesen

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says a special designation will be granted for internationally educated nurses waiting to take an English test, to allow them to practise as soon as possible.  

Currently, in order to get certified, internationally trained nurses have to complete either the CELBAN or IELTS language tests — which have both been cancelled because of COVID-19. The CELBAN test has been cancelled since April and the IELT was cancelled this week. 

Without these test scores, international educated nurses, or IENs, can’t get registered and practise in Manitoba. 

Friesen said the new special designation will remove the red tape for IENs to practise in Manitoba. 

“It doesn’t make anyone unsafe. There’s a recognition that these nurses have attained the level of training that they would need,” Friesen said Thursday. 

“In some cases, it will mean additional supervision and we have employers saying, no problem, we can supervise,” he said. 

Because the language requirement is outlined in the Regulated Health Professions Act, the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba said it needs a ministerial order to modify that requirement on a temporary basis. 

In an email statement to CBC, the college said it doesn’t have an exact timeline on the process, but “everyone is working expeditiously on it.” 

“This is a top priority for the college. The college and/or the minister of health will certainly provide updates in a timely fashion,” the statement reads. 

‘Barriers to accreditation’: Marcelino

The issue of the cancelled English tests was first raised on Wednesday by MLA Malaya Marcelino, the NDP’s critic for immigration and status of women.

“It’s a move forward, it’s addressing the concerns … but it’s still not fair for all the red tape and all the barriers to accreditation that these men and women are facing,” she said. 

Marcelino said she was told by international nurses at Red River College three weeks ago that approximately 80 of them were stuck in limbo waiting to write their exams. 

The college refutes the number provided by Marcelino. It says currently, it has 39 IEN with pending applications who need to submit a language test result. 

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