Quebec is rolling out the red carpet to recruit 1,000 nurses from abroad who will be invited to practice in seven regions where the network is facing a nursing shortage.

Labour and Immigration Minister Jean Boulet announced Wednesday an investment of $65 million over two years to recruit and integrate these international candidates.

The workers will be destined for Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, James Bay and Outaouais. Boulet specified, though, that candidates will not be obliged to work in these regions.

Candidates will be welcomed in CEGEPs in those targeted regions to receive nine to 12 months of refresher training that will lead to recognition of their training and clinical experience by Quebec's order of nurses, the Ordre des infirmières. They will be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week as a home support worker during their training.

Candidates will also receive a stipend of $500 per week for the duration of the training and tuition fees, College equivalency application fees and the cost of bridging training will all be covered by the immigration department.

Those recruited through this program will be able to settle in Quebec with their immediate family and their spouse will receive an open work permit.

The first cohorts of nurses will arrive in the fall of 2022, as well as in 2023, to complete their bridging training.

The francophone countries targeted for recruitment of nurses for the first phase of the project are Algeria, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritius.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 16, 2022