Kenyan refugees bound for N.S. to work in continuing care

The Nova Scotia Office of Healthcare Professionals Recruitment expects all 65 refugees from a camp in Kenya will accept continuing care assistant jobs. (wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock - image credit)
The Nova Scotia Office of Healthcare Professionals Recruitment expects all 65 refugees from a camp in Kenya will accept continuing care assistant jobs. (wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock - image credit)

Nova Scotia is offering jobs as continuing care assistants to 65 refugees from a camp in Kenya.

The offers are conditional, but Suzanne Ley, senior executive director of the Office of Healthcare Professionals Recruitment, said she expects all the candidates to accept.

"I'm hoping all 65," Ley said.

The recent recruitment trip to Kenya was a partnership between the province, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the Health Association of Nova Scotia, MacLeod Group, and refugee-focused charities The Shapiro Foundation and RefugePoint.

Ley said the Health Association of Nova Scotia — which represents the continuing care sector — identified the qualified candidates and offered them jobs.

"There is a lot of in-depth work [happening] to match the right worker with the right employer," Ley said. "They had lots of one-on-one conversations with candidates to talk to them about what it means to live in Nova Scotia, what's required. And language, for instance, and whether people needed to upscale."

The team was directed to Kenya by the federal Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot, which identifies refugees with much-needed skills who meet regional and provincial immigration requirements.

A first for Nova Scotia

This was Nova Scotia's first recruitment drive at a refugee camp and Ley said those interviewed were highly trained medical workers — many of them nurses or continuing care workers.

Some of them have been living as refugees in Kenya their entire lives. Ley said many of those who are expected to arrive in Nova Scotia have spouses who are also skilled workers such as welders.

Work is underway now to figure out where in the province they'll end up working.

Start date mid-2023

"They'll sort of be across the province," Ley said. "We know the MacLeod Group — an employer who was with us on the mission — has folks that they're hiring to come to Mahone Bay."

So far, none of the new potential recruits has any housing lined up. Ley said their new employers will help with that.

"We're working on it," Ley said. "And to be fair, some of this takes time."

The province's portion of the recruitment trip cost just under $20,000.

The new continuing care assistants are expected to start arriving in mid-2023.

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