Filipino and other foreign educated nurses are being recruited in Alberta, but the UCP claim they’re part of a record-breaking recruitment drive is doubtful (Photo: R De Chavez/International Labour Organization).

Yesterday’s United Conservative Party claim that Alberta is the beneficiary of a record-breaking drive to recruit nurses from abroad seems divorced from reality. 

A UCP social media ad attributing a misleading claim to the Globe and Mail (Image: Facebook/Jason Copping).

In a UCP news release echoed repeatedly on social media by the party’s supporters, Health Minister Jason Copping was quoted saying that “under the United Conservatives, Alberta has seen the largest recruitment of nurses in our province’s history … 1,413 new internationally educated nurses call Alberta home.”

Now, there’s spin and there’s spin, but Mr. Copping’s claim travels pretty deep into the italics

Maybe the UCP strategic brain trust is having to spend so much time spinning away their leader’s many outrageous statements from the recent past that they’re losing their grip on reality. Or maybe it’s something else. 

Whatever it is, the notion that the UCP Government is suddenly hiring nurses like they’re going out of style is not supported by the accessible facts. Albertans are entitled to ask Mr. Copping where these 1,413 new nurses that supposedly call Alberta home are working. 

While the Mr. Copping’s news release did not explain where the 1,413 figure came from, social media posts by the UCP did: A Globe and Mail story published yesterday that said the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta has registered the same number of nurses from abroad since April 4, when the regulatory college streamlined its application process for foreign-educated nurses. 

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping during his short-lived goatee phase (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

The trouble is, there’s very little evidence many of these international nurses are working here in public hospitals – and it remains to be seen if they ever will be. 

United Nurses of Alberta, which represents well over 30,000 nurses including all Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses employed by Alberta Health Services who are not in management, has seen the number of duespayers on its rolls grow by only 370 in the past 12 months, May 2022 to May 2023. 

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents Licensed Practical Nurses, did not have exact numbers last night, but a spokesperson said AUPE has also not seen significant membership growth among LPNs either. 

UNA’s growth rate of about 1 per cent also includes some new units previously not represented by a union, so not necessarily from the cohort of internationally educated nurses Mr. Copping is bragging about. 

Meanwhile, between January 2022 and January 2023 – not exactly the same time period, but close enough for jazz and political blogs – the average annual growth rate of the population of Alberta was 3.7 per cent, according to the government

So the actual recruitment of front-line nurses in hard-pressed public-sector worksites in Alberta in the past year doesn’t sound very much like what the UCP calls “the largest recruitment of nurses in provincial history.” 

So what’s going on? 

Other than the fact, that is, the Alberta health care system remains in chaos, desperately short of nurses with more than 30 hospitals having faced service disruptions and more than 70 relying on “agency nurses,” expensive temporary employees hired through employment agencies, to keep their doors open. As a result, nurses employed by AHS have trouble getting time off approved.

The answers are mostly found in the Globe’s story. 

Yes, thousands of foreign trained nurses would like to come to Canada. And, yes, as CRNA told the Globe, many of them are already in Canada but haven’t been able to work in their field up to now because of regulatory red tape. 

But are the 1,413 CRNA specified all working now in Alberta? It’s possible, if they’re all in non-union private-sector workplaces. But that seems unlikely. 

Where they obviously aren’t working is in public hospitals, as Mr. Copping implied and where they are so desperately needed. 

Lucy Reyes, president of the Calgary-based Philippine Canadian Nurses Association, was right when she told the Globe it’s about time these regulatory changes were made. And eventually they may result in an influx of nurses from the Philippines and other countries. 

But what likely happened at UCP Headquarters, swamped with bad news about the latest revelations of Premier Smith’s past idiocies, was that someone grasped at the rather thin straw offered by the Globe’s story. 

Is there really a significant nurse recruiting campaign? Not yet.

Is this “the largest recruitment of nurses in provincial history”? Mr. Copping should be asked to prove it. 

Will either of those claims ever be true? It seems unlikely. 

Alberta is competing with the world for a limited number of highly educated professionals. 

And Alberta, where just before the pandemic in 2019 the UCP was talking about laying off hundreds of RNs, hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to make itself attractive to medical professionals.

Man who wanted to lay off hundreds of nurses ascends to ATCO Board

A haggard Jason Kenney talks COVID in 2021 – he’ll have a nicer time on the ATCO Board (Photo: Alberta Newsrtoom/Flickr).

Speaking of laying off hundreds of RNs, the guy who wanted to do that has just been rewarded with a comfortable seat on the board of ATCO, the Calgary-based energy conglomerate.

Former UCP premier Jason Kenney was put out to pasture last year despite his success creating the United Conservative Frankenparty by stitching together the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservatives after the NDP election victory in 2015.

He was replaced by Danielle Smith. 

Both Mr. Kenney’s political demise and Ms. Smith’s ascension appear to have been made possible by the insurgency of the Take Back Alberta extremist group, which now significantly controls the UCP. 

The ATCO Board made Mr. Kenney’s appointment, which had been telegraphed earlier, official yesterday

Long-time Conservative activist says Premier Smith shouldn’t have been allowed to run

Conservative operative Ken Boessenkool (Photo: Twitter/ Ken Boessenkool).

And speaking of Ms. Smith, a veteran Conservative activist told Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid yesterday that Alberta’s premier should never have been allowed to run for the UCP leadership.

If she’d run to be a candidate, Ken Boessenkool said, she would have been disqualified.

Now, this isn’t exactly a revelation to anyone who’s been paying attention, but props to the former advisor to Preston Manning, Ralph Klein, Stephen Harper, and Stockwell Day among other big Conservative kahunas for having the intestinal fortitude to state the obvious: Ms. Smith is no conservative, she’s a dangerous loon!

Those were my words, of course, not Mr. Boessenkool’s, but why waste time on the nuanced version?

Join the Conversation


  1. Jason Copping’s claim of 1413 new nurses brings to mind the term ‘true lies’. I wonder how many of those nurses have been lured, not by the provincial government, but by the private nurse companies David alluded to.

    On the topic of true lies, I found the CBC story (linked below) about the UCP claim that the NDP raised taxes 97 times interesting. Included in that 97 claim is fee increases, such as museum entrance fees. And, if a museum has 4 ticket categories and all 4 went up, that counts as 4 ‘tax’ increases. Using the UCP’s metric, incidentally, the UCP has apparently have increased taxes 144 times.

  2. A dangerous loon who calls Albertans every insulting name in the book! One day, we’re followers of Hitler. The next we’re psychotics caught up in mass hysteria. Anyone who has encountered a narcissist before knows this is right from their playbook. Speaking of the term “malignant narcissist”, did you know it was coined by a German Jew who fled the Nazis during WWII?,most%20vicious%20destructiveness%20and%20inhumanity%22.

  3. So the UCP have recruited a whole bunch of nurses from other countries? Yeah, sure.

    The College of Registered Nurses of Alberta recently announced they’d revamped—simplified and streamlined—the registration process for nurses not trained in Canada. The new process was announced in April 2023. The result was a two-fold increase in applications for registration in ONE MONTH. That’s great news. Here’s the immediate result:

    “According to [Andrew Douglas, an executive director of the CRNA]…nearly 1200 people have started the application process since the changes went into effect on April 4. [T]he college had issued 672 permits since the launch.

    “For comparison, the regulator received 582 applications for an entire four-year period between 2018 and 2022.”

    Here’s my source, published 1 May 2023:

    As of 1 May, there was no total given for new hires working for AHS. And Oilberduhstan is STILL competing with every other country and government in the WORLD for trained medical staff.

    Copping’s claim is as credible as Smith’s announcement that her pet director of AHS had “solved” its problems in only weeks.

  4. As the former medical workers in our family and friends point out, why are Albertans allowing these phoney conservatives to treat our doctors, nurses and teachers like third class citizens and deliberately driving them out of the province. Then spending millions trying to replace them. It wasn’t happening under Lougheed and Getty when they were highly respected and treated properly.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: This is like what Ralph Klein was doing, and the nurses in my family remember what he did. The UCP are playing games with people, and people still fall for their lies. Columnists, such as Lorne Gunter and David Staples will not hold Danielle Smith and the UCP to account.

  5. So Jason Kenney’s back on the gravy train, or at least he’s been allowed to board with a free pass.

    I’m not sure he’ll be all that comfortable at ATCO, that bastion of Conservative, Old Tory privilege owned by the Southern family of Calgary. Jason Kenney’s not really a businessman, after all. He’s a political apparatchik. His elevation to the ruling clique of Calgary must be either probationary, or temporary.

    Either way, I suspect he’ll have to prove to the Southerns that he can earn his seat at the table. Once his knowledge of the current government becomes stale, he’s liable to find himself looking for work.

    1. Mike: Jason only needs something to tide him over for 20 and a half days. Then he qualifies for his Parliamentary pension. After that, it’s just gravy. DJC

      1. Barely three weeks till Jason gets his pension? Oh, well in that case, he’s got nothing to worry about. Still, I bet he’d be more happy than not to have a part-time job, right? We’ll see if ATCO decides he’s worth keeping.

  6. FWIW, I respect Mr. Boessenkool. I very seldom agree with his politics (CBC’s Vote Compass says the party that best represents me is the Green Party; they’re right). Still, Boessenkool is intelligent, honest, MODERATE, and he has a degree of personal integrity currently unknown in Danielle Smith’s Take Back Alberta party.

    I was surprised to see some comments to Braid’s column that were NOT incoherent personal attacks against Braid himself. Of course, they were outnumbered by the comments that ARE personal attacks. The tone of the rants published by the Herald are a sobering indication of the quality of public discourse—and education—in Alberta.

    1. If you think the Herald’s comments are bad, see what Global allows one Peter Belinski to defile their articles.

  7. Had a glossy through our door in Calgary Lougheed yesterday. Colour, print on both sides. High quality handout.

    Only mention of UCP was at the bottom of one side. Not one mention of Danielle Smith. Not even a picture!

    On the flip side there was a picture and reference to Rachael Notley.

    Not hard to envisage the embarrassment that UCP candidates in Calgary suffer with Danielle Smith as Leader.

    I believe the Duane Bratt is right. Whether she wins or looses Danielle Smith is headed for the exit door

    1. Hi Brett. I’ve been telling people that, even though Danielle Smith leads the UCP, she’s really a founding member of the Take Back Alberta Party. TBA is just waiting till after the election to make it official.

    2. What, with the Take Back Alberta crowd holding half of the board seats and looking at taking over the other half at the earliest opportunity?

      1. Yep. David Parker brags about the Con party leaders he’s helped turf. If Danielle Smith disappoints him, she’s history.

  8. Yes, Smith is certainly a loon. While Boessenkool did not use that word, I think it is in keeping with his sentiment. In so far as she in unpredictable and seems to regularly trot out various half baked ideas, she is dangerous too. This month she seems ok with public health care, next month you never know. It is probably not a good sign for Smith that someone of Boessenkool’s stature has come out so publicly with his concerns now, but unlike others in the party you can give him credit for being fairly consistent about Smith all along.

    So if Smith is a loon, you have to wonder if Copping who arguably seems more stable is now having hallucinations about numerous non existent, imaginary nurses. Or maybe it is just good old fashioned making things up. Perhaps it will be easier to recruit medical professionals with Kenney gone, although it seemed to be his former health minister Shandro who really irked them most. Oddly, somehow he is still around and running again. Even though he and Smith might not agree on everything, for some reason I could see him being fairly comfortable in loon land.

  9. Another day, another con job by Premier Danielle Smith and her subordinate UCP lackeys.

    On Wednesday, August 11, 2011, the United Nurses of Alberta held public healthcare support rallies at various hospitals in Alberta.

    2011 was the era of covid-19 vaccine availability, yet the hospitals were overrun with covid-19 patients. The ICU’s were overwhelmed with very ill patients, many unvaccinated.

    Premier Jason Kenney, at that time, proposed a wage cut to Registered Nurses.

    As a supporter of public healthcare, I went to a rally at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary and asked if I could participate by holding up a sign, waving, doing anything helpful. The rally organizers were gracious and professional.

    We had fun waving to the vehicles driving along 14th Street, Joe Ceci, NDP Calgary Buffalo, showed up; had lots of interesting conversations with Registered Nurses who truly care about their patients.

    Oh, and I was a cancer patient. It was the only way I could think of to show my gratefulness.

    Recently, Registered Nurses and the surgeon who operated on me several years ago gave me a little lapel pin with a rainbow on it. The pin means cancer-free for five years.

    To me, the rainbow pin is a testament to all the committed professionals at Tom Baker Cancer Center. They worked with terrified me, mapped out a plan, told me what to expect (as much as a they could with a disease like cancer) and off we went. Everyone was careful, professional, caring and honest.

    If Alberta wants to destroy it’s public healthcare system, by all means, vote for dumdum Danielle and the UCP. There are no Registered Nurses clamoring to get to Alberta. No family physicians, either.

    Maybe that fool in Claresholm has a solution. But I hear she’s not a Registered Nurse.

  10. So guess the news source by the headline;
    1. hospital protestor charges the stage
    2. protesters interrupt event
    3. protestors storm stage at news event
    4. protesters crash UCP announcement
    5. protesters interrupt UCP announcement
    6. a group interrupted a UCP event

    amused or bemused?
    But an interesting quote from Dani ,in the CBC article–
    ” you should judge me by what I do. I hope people are understanding this. What I do is the measure of what I’m going to do as Premier .”

    IMHO, I’m making a special effort to try and get my sister to be prepared to move, depending on the election, if it happens this month *

    *more speculation in the air about this on the news.

    1. Randi-Lee: The UCP has been trying all afternoon to make this about the NDP and unions. It’s pathetic. One of the protesters was identified by one news organization as “an AFL affiliate.” He might be a member of an AFL affiliate – i.e., a union, I couldn’t tell you. He’s certainly not an AFL activist. I’ve never heard of the guy and I run in those circles. You can see my response to this nonsense tonight. DJC

  11. Rachel and her dream team are great squishy, nice, muffiny group of people. They are big on spending everyone else’s cash that works, redistributing that cash for unions and sub T4 voters, but they have no plan whatsoever ever for economic wealth generation. They already scared a Trillion dollars of capitol away from Alberta last time they got 4 yrs in. An American Fund manager stated to me that Alberta has a bad reputation and the one orange govt has scared away capitalists. We can tax them into oblivion and they will just pickup and leave to some other jurisdiction like Borneo or South America. Stupid dippers just don’t get finances, business and economic growth. They would still make a great humanist opposition party for sure. It’s time to let the adults take over.

    1. What the hell are you talking about Hugh? Do you actually hear the words you are saying?
      Your fevered rantings over responsible economic policies are, on the surface, just asinine and at a deeper level point to a level of sanity that should be concerning.

      We all live in a community. In this day and age, a very, very interconnected community. Whatever profits your fantasy corporations are making come directly from within that community.
      There is nothing wrong and everything right with returning a very large chunk of those profits back into the community!

      You can call them capitalists if you like but in fact they are thieves and basically just bad people with low moral characters. You should choose your heroes more carefully.
      If these business types want to leave Canada because they have to follow basic rules of responsible conduct and pay reasonable wages, royalties and taxes, well that’s just fine. We don’t want, or need, these types anyways. They just stink up the place and lower the general level of civility.

    2. Hugh G. Horgan: That’s the greatest buch of malarkey ever. The $1 trillion that is gone, is thanks to phony Conservatives, like Ralph Klein, who destroyed what Peter Lougheed did right. $575 billion has been lost, by stopping the collection of the oil royalty rates that Peter Lougheed was collecting. There is an outstanding bill of $260 billion to cleanup abandoned oil wells in Alberta, thanks to Ralph Klein not being strict with the oil companies to cleanup after themselves, like Peter Lougheed made them do. Ralph Klein also lost $150 billion from abysmal tax policies. In addition, the Alberta PCs did many very pricey shenanigans, which cost us a fortune. Included in this, is throwing away $35 billion on the Redwater upgrader mess, which the UCP paid $17.5 billion to keep it on life support. The UCP made a stupid assumption that Donald Trump would get a second chance, and they threw away $7.5 billion on a pipeline. In addition, we have the UCP not collecting property taxes from the oil companies, losing us hundreds of millions of dollars, and making municipalities put in municipal tax hikes. The UCP have also made us pay $20 billion to fix up the damages the oil companies were supposed to be dealing with. You can’t get any more foolish than that.

      1. don’t know what Hugh Horgan is smoking but I’d sure like to buy some. Perhaps Hugh has spent too much time at the Fraser Institute.
        Don’t know where Hugh is getting all his “facts”, but omg. If oil companies think they can make more money in South america, let them go. Of course the people in Alberta might want to see what the standard of living is like in South America for working people. If oil companies are making life so great in south American why are all those people from South America trying to get into the U.S.A.
        Canadians do not want to live below the poverty line or anywhere near it so some foreign oil/gas company can increase their profits. Now if Hugh would like to try living at the poverty level, we’ll see how he does and how he likes it.

  12. Elections are never the same without Larry Heather as a perennial Candidate. He was a candidate in our first federal election after moving to Alberta.

    Since then it seems he has been in every one since….provincial, federal, and municipal. He always gets about 250 votes so he must have a lot of relatives in town.

    We thought we missed him this year. As it turns out he is running in Calgary Acadia as an independent of course.

    Good to him back on a ballot…even if it is not our riding.

    He is most certainly a more worthwhile candidate IMHO than UCP’s washed up Tyler Shandro. So…if you voting in Acadia and do not want to vote NDP or UCP give Larry some consideration!

  13. Jason Copping’s new beard is … startling, but not in a good way.

    There seems to be this trend among men to grow beards when dealing with depression, or hide to themselves in plain sight. And during an important announcement by Premier Smith, protesters appeared out of no where, during the broadcast, and sent Smith packing. Well, Smith was on the run, but Security left three MLAs at the microphone, defenceless and prey to the protestors.

    What gives? Save Smith, but everyone else in on their own? Welcome to Alberta.

    1. Just: To be fair, that’s an old photo. It’s very arresting, though, and, the night before last, I finally just couldn’t resist it. He shaved it off pretty quick – probably not long after his wife got a look at him. DJC

  14. This just in: so many nurses have quit public service because of stress, burnout and low pay that hospitals are contracting with staffing agencies. Guess where the temporary staff came from? Right! From the hospitals that under-paid them and burned them out.

    It’s not just Alberta. Toronto, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Quebec are specifically named in the article. Does anyone want to bet these stories are not representative examples? Does anyone dare to argue any province NOT named doesn’t have an identical problem?

    Here’s a disturbing quote from Natalie Stake-Doucet, a former nurse in Quebec: “The private agencies are taking advantage of the fact that our health-care system is a meat grinder for nurses,” she said. Here’s another disturbing quote: “Earlier this year, the [Quebec] government passed a bill that will limit the use of health-care staffing agencies, with a goal of banning hospitals from using them by the end of 2025.” I wonder if they plan to divert the money saved on agency nurses into salary for hospital staff?

    Such is the high cost of economizing.

  15. Wasn’t Copping the minister of Labour back in the Spring of 2020 who assured the workers at Cargill that Covid wasn’t a threat and that they were perfectly safe, and then a few of them died from it? Wasn’t he also instrumental in lowering the minimum wage? Has minimum wage ever been reduced anywhere in Canada – ever? Why would anyone believe anything this guy has to say?

    1. Athabascan: Yes, Mr. Copping was the Minister of Labour in the spring of 2020. One employee of the Cargill plant died. Many more were sickened. DJC

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