Canadian nurses still looking for work in Detroit after border issues

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Canadian nurses still looking for work in Detroit after border issues

Recent issues with specialized Canadian nurses crossing into the U.S. for work every day have not deterred people from seeking work across the border, say health officials. 

The Henry Ford Health Centre held a job fair in Windsor on Wednesday, looking — for the third straight year — to hire dozens of nurses across many of its departments, including the intensive care unit and the emergency room.

Some Canadian candidates expressed fear about the border, given the issues that emerged last month when an interpretation of work visas prevented some nurses from crossing the border. But the uncertainty wasn't enough to deter them from applying for the 60 to 70 openings. 

"I don't have too much fear about that right now," said Justin Borrelli, a recent nursing graduate from the University of Windsor. "There's talk going around: Who know if we're going to have jobs over there or if they're going to be offering them to us Canadians any more? But I'm not worried."

Anticipating border questions

Henry Ford prepared for questions about the border, bringing along with them the hospital's immigration lawyer Marc Topoleski, who was front-and-centre when the issue arose in March. 

Overall, the candidates at the job fair didn't have too many border concerns, said Gwen Gnam, chief nursing officer at Henry Ford Health Centre.

"We've not heard a lot of apprehension today from those candidates who are here, just some questions — typical questions about how to cross the border," she said. 

Josh Booth, a registered nurse who was hired on the spot two years ago by Henry Ford, was also at the job fair to talk about his experiences in case any of the applicants had questions. 

He too heard some concerns among the candidates about border issues, but nothing alarming, he told CBC News.

"Registered nurses are still very much able to work in the United States and there is no issue at this point," Booth said. 

Even without the border-crossing issues, candidates worry about commuting between countries. Booth fielded many questions about that issue Wednesday. 

"People feel like the border is a bit of a daunting task to go through, but it's actually not even that bad," he said. "I have one of the shortest commutes to Henry Ford, compared to my counterparts who live in Michigan."