2. Understanding the Big Picture

In this lesson we will look at the big picture—the diverse population that exists in Canada today, and the ongoing trend towards greater diversity.

Diversity in Canada

In March 2010 the CBC published an article1 summarizing StatsCan’s population projections, specifically looking at visible minorities (which for this purpose means non-Aboriginal, non-Caucasian, and non-white in skin colour):

  • By 2031 about one-third of Canada’s population (about 14.4 million people) will be a visible minority.
  • A 28% rise in the foreign-born population is expected in the same time period (about four times faster than the rest of the population).
  • If these predictions hold true, whites will be a minority in both Toronto and Vancouver by 2040.
  • 71% of visible minorities are projected to live in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Even if you live in a smaller community, your community will become more diverse as time goes by. If you live in a city, your community is already diverse, and that will continue.

In this video you will hear from a number of diversity and human resources experts working in a variety of healthcare organizations. Listen as they build a business case for hiring and integrating IEHPs.

(To read along click here.)

Advantages to Having Diverse Staff

There are many advantages to having staff who reflect your local client base: they have a deep understanding of a different cultural background, and can be well placed to help your organization connect with different cultural sub-groups in your community, encouraging them to access both preventive and acute healthcare.

Investing in IEHPs: Nine-fold

In 2015 The Toronto Star reported on a study looking at IENs (internationally educated nurses) done by the Conference Board of Canada2, which concluded: “Each dollar invested by Ottawa and provincial governments in helping registered nurses acquire Canadian licences generates $9 in future income tax revenue—a nine-fold return, according to the study—not to mention their contributions to the care of the country’s rapidly aging population.” Michael Bloom, the conference board’s vice-president in charge of industry and business strategy, concluded: “This is a win-win for Canada and the internationally educated nurses (IEN). The concept of investing in career bridging programs is good and sound. It yields returns.”

Investing in IEHPs: Innovation

Donald H. Oliver compares advantages that companies hiring ITIs (internationally trained immigrants) have over their competitors: “Having a multicultural workforce encourages innovation and new ways of looking at business challenges”; it means enhanced innovation and decision-making.3 A willingness to broaden the potential hiring talent pool gives an organization an edge, and this is especially true when you are in a situation where the potential hiring talent pool is small to begin with.

The Bottom Line

In their book Danger and Opportunity: Bridging Cultural Diversity for Competitive Advantage diversity experts Lionel Laroche and Caroline Yang ask the question: Who should adapt to whom? In some countries and cultures all adaptation is the sole responsibility of the person who moved there, but in Canada most people and organizations seem to settle at around 80/20: adaptation is 80% the responsibility of the new person (the IEHP) and 20% the responsibility of the organization.4

A report produced by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science suggests that: “True integration is a career-long venture that involves the individual’s ability to advance within their profession with the same opportunities and options as their Canadian educated counterparts. This type of parity is essential for internationally educated practitioners to flourish and remain active in their respective professions. Should these conditions not be met, the full value of these professionals to the public and the economy will not be realized. Moreover, their potential departure from the health care field will only serve to deepen labour shortages in Canada.”5


The benefits of workplace diversity include: a solid representation of patients, increased adaptability, broader service range, a variety of viewpoints, and more effective execution. Hiring IEHPs is good for your patients, your team, the IEHPs themselves, and the Canadian economy.

In the next lesson we will hear from a wide range of diversity and human resources experts. They will help you to build a business case for your organization to hire IEHPs.


1CBC article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/minorities-to-rise-significantly-by-2031-statscan-1.865985

2Toronto Star article, October 31, 2015: https://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2015/10/31/helping-immigrant-nurses-a-win-win-for-canada-study.html

3Oliver, Hon. D.H. Achieving Results through Diversity: A Strategy for Success. Ivey Business Journal. (March/April 2005). Pages 1–6

4Laroche, Lionel and Caroline Yang. Danger and Opportunity: Bridging Cultural Diversity for Competitive Advantage. Routledge: New York. 2014

5Assessing the Workforce Integration of Internationally Educated Health Professionals, p.3: https://caot.ca/pdfs/WFI_Report_E.pdf


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