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Hi Folks,

I'm a longtime lurker on this great forum, this is the first time I've posted and the question is a bit of a doozy. I'm a twenty year old American who has always been very interested in EMS. I was about to begin an EMT course here in my home state of Maine, but I am young and full of dreams and had the good fortune of visiting Vancouver and realizing I wanted to make my life in the great province of BC. It was love at first sight.

Icing on the cake is the incredible EMS system I've been reading about. I am now in the process of applying for a student visa and hope to enroll in the EMR and, subsequently, PCP program at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. I'm in the process of researching immigration and work visas, and I don't expect you guys to answer any questions about that sort of thing, but, long story short, I do have countless questions.

Is there any demand for Primary Care Paramedics in BC?

Do you know if I stand an iceberg's chance in well of being hired on a work visa?

Has anyone else on the internet/in the world done something like this?

Any other tips or help would be greatly appreciated.

I know I'm crazy, guys, but I'm young and in love (with Canada), and I have a strong Yankee work ethic.

So many thanks in advance,


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A noble ambition but I think you will find it tough going, Canada has a merit ("points") based immigration system (like most other nations except the US) and you are most likely going to be waging a sharply uphill battle.

Many Canadian provinces are able to fill demand internally either from within their own province (Ontario springs to mind) or from movements within other provinces (BC, Ontario and Alberta are generally importers of Paramedics whereas places like Quebec export them to other non fucked up non French speaking non spy provinces)

Think very carefully, in the not unlikely situation that you are unable to obtain sponsorship for a work visa your Canadian PCP/ACP training will not transfer back to the US.

Good luck

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Starting out as a PCP is a tough road in BC. You can expect to start "part time" and stay there for at least 4-5 years. Compensation rates at the PCP level are not great and in some respects just plane abusive.

Rates are stratified into three different categories.

Full starting rate: $21.19/hour

Pager pay: $2.00/hour

Standby pay: $11.19/hour

There are three different shift types for part time staff.

Kilo: On pager at home for $2.00/hour until called then up to full rate for a minimum 4 hours or until call completed. Whichever is longer.

Foxtrot: On standby at the station until called out then up to the full rate for a minimum of 3 hours

Spareboard: Full rate for the entire shift. Only received when covering what's normally a full time persons shift.

The compensation rates might seem equitable by US standards but I promise you by Canadian standards they're atrocious.

As for transferability of credentials state side I can't say. Professional pay and respect differences between the two countries is staggering.

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Thank you for your reply and advice, Kiwi. I sincerely appreciate your help.

Think very carefully, in the not unlikely situation that you are unable to obtain sponsorship for a work visa your Canadian PCP/ACP training will not transfer back to the US.

This is something that I have considered at length. Not an easy possibility with which to come to terms, and I am left seriously torn. C'est l'amour, I suppose.

I gratefully welcome any more comments or advice.


Thank you for your reply; it was very helpful as I had no idea how the shift system worked. That does seem like it could get pretty brutal.

Are many PCPs hired right out of school, or is there usually a waiting period? Do many people go for ACP during the 4-5 years you mentioned?

Respect is a completely different matter in Canada. EMS actually looks like a career. This is not my sole reason for emigrating. Your country is, in my relatively well-traveled eye, the greatest place on earth.

Thank you for your help,


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I chose to complete my ACP during that time frame. For me it was more a matter of wanting to work at a higher level than using it as a shortcut to full time (I have just over 4 1/2 years in now anyway).

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Right now you need to worry about nothing besides whether you can get sponsored for a work visa. Nothing else matters and everything outside of this pales into insignificance because it is insignificant as without that nothing else happens.

As I have said, most places in Canada seem to fill their labour requirements internally with Canadian trained students from their own province and some internal labour moves between provinces. In Ontario I hear competition to get a PCP job is pretty bloody tough.

I know of some people from Australia and the UK who have made the move to Kandahara but they have been very experienced Intensive Care Paramedics or State Registered Paramedics respectively not some young wide eyed fresher with no experience. Look at it from the view of the employer; it costs them several thousand dollars and a ton of paperwork to sponsor you and right next to you is another graduate with the same amount of zero experience and his shiny new Class 4 Driver License (Class F in Ontario) but is a citizen so why in the hell are they going to sponsor you? they're not.

If you do not get sponsored then your Canadian training means nothing in the United States; you will be out a lot of money and no further ahead.

I do not mean to be negative I am being realistic, I think you are up against a battle which is simply not winnable, do not give up but do some serious research about whether or not you will get sponsored, get talking to prospective employers NOW because nothing else matters.

I wish you the best of luck eh, let us know how you get on

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Hi novice, as an American who moved to Vancouver, I think I can tell you a bit about it. First of all its tough to get permanent resident status in Canada. You can either get it through a family or a skilled worker application. I'm married to a Canadian citizen and it took me about two and a half years from the date of my marriage to get my status in Canada. Unfortunately, the news recently said that Canada was so backed up with skilled worker visas that they basically returned everyone's application and have to start over. If you can get a student visa to study at JIBC, that's really awesome, and if you can afford to, go for it. There is a demand for PCPs in BC, to be sure, but like anything in EMS, getting the spot you want sometimes means having to be patient and work a job in a position you don't want. My biggest pieces of advice are: Don't try to do immigration through Quebec. Quebec is an island unto itself and has separate immigration rules. Secondly, don't think about working in Washington State in EMS while you wait on your Canada immigration. Washington State not only has a very insular, protected EMS system that requires a system to sign off on you before you are certified i.e. you have to find an organization to first hire you, then put in your papers for certification, making it very difficult to get a job, in addition, Washington State's economy which relied heavily on timber production was decimated when people stopped building new houses. On the other hand,one interesting thing I found out was that that the BC EMR level is equivalent to a WA EMT-B level, and there is some reciprocity agreements there. Lastly, do not get fooled by anyone or any business that tells you they can streamline your immigration process. They can't. Its not in the province of BC's hands, its in the federal government of Canada's hands, and unless you have some contacts at the highest levels of government, nothing can really be done to speed up an application.

So, if you can get a student visa to study at the JI, go for it, that sounds really awesome. On the other hand, it will be extremely tough to be able to work in Canada, even if you do get the full PCP license, and then even if you get the PCP license and the work, which will be a real feat in itself, you'd still have to work on getting hired, and intakes to various organizations sometimes only happen a couple of times a year. It isn't something that isn't worth working for, but it is very difficult and make take a long time to complete. But remember, people go to college for four to six years to get the job they want. You might have to as well.

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A student visa will not allow you to work as a Paramedic, you will be required to obtain a work visa through a sponsoring employer which costs thousands of dollars and takes a very long time so makes it extremely unlikely that BCAS or any of the services I know of are going to sponsor him, especially as a new graduate with zero experience. There are some medics I know who have moved to Canada but they have been extremely experienced international practitioners from comparable Commonweatlh systems

If you are looking to work outside the US I suggest you get a Bachelors Degree in EMS and at least five years work experience as a Paramedic in a very progressive system (such Wake County, Reno, any of the Medic One systems, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Lee County, Deleware or Medstar or some of the other non-Fire systems in Texas/DFW) then look into Australia and New Zealand.

We have heaps of international Paramedics and Intensive Care Paramedics down here and there are several services who are accredited employers so once you get a job offer they fast track your application for a work visa. Be warned competition is extremely tough due to the high calibre of the operations in this part of the world but people from Europe, US, Canada, South Africa, UK etc are all welcome.

Edited by Kiwiology
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Thank you for sharing your valuable experience, Asysin2leads. I am aware that the permanent residency process will take years, and getting sponsored is the most difficult obstacle I will face. There is a different work visa pool for people who graduate from Canadian institutions, and I am hopeful that I could get immigration points through that. In a practical scenario, I'll probably be working as an EMR or EMT equivalent in some kind of industrial or rural work in Alberta or Saskatchewan. At this point, I would be very grateful for such an opportunity.

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It probably won't change your immigration situation, but once you do get a work visa, consider working in the oil patch. I have a friend who works 24hr shifts as an EMR. After two weeks she walks away with $8K in her pocket. That is at the upper end of things, but there is money to be had up there. Beats sitting on a Kilo pager at $2/hr!

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