If you’re a nurse who’d like to see a boost in your pay, you may want to direct your eyes northward. Because nurses are so in demand in Canada’s Far North, they can command high salaries and extremely attractive benefits.
Living in the Far North
The Far North consists of the Yukon, Northwest, and Nunavut territories. This area can be harshly cold, the days are extremely short in the winter, and towns tend to be quite small with few amenities and not much to do. If you can handle those elements, the earnings are worth it.
Nurse Salaries in the Far North
In general, travelling nurses earn more than their stationary peers. In fact, they earn $45 to $55 per hour on average, significantly more than the $32.86 per hour average for nurses throughout the rest of the country. For nurses who are willing to move north, the compensation is often more generous. In fact, as of 2015, in the minute hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk in the North Territories, the average hourly rate for nurses is $70. On top of that, you also can qualify for overtime pay and standby pay for on-call hours. In many cases, to work in these areas, you don’t take a job with a medical clinic or a nursing agency. Rather, the Canadian government employs you.
Extra Benefits for Remote Nurses
The Canadian government offers a number of perks to nurses who are willing to be stationed in remote areas and First Nation communities. The benefits package includes pension plans, medical and dental benefits, and sick leave. You get access to counseling, support, and other services through the federal Employee Assistance Program, and as of 2018, the program includes the forgiveness of up to $20,000 in student loans. This amount accrues over a five-year period.
The program also offers a number of financial allowances. You can earn special bonuses for starting the program, staying on for a certain amount of time, and being in charge. So you can afford to bring your family with you, there are also additional allowances based on family size.
Benefits to Nursing in Remote Areas
Aside from the income and employment benefits, when you decide to go to remote parts of Canada, you get to experience multiple other benefits. In particular, you see a vast, beautiful part of the country that is still relatively untouched by development. You also really get to know your patients, and arguably, you play a larger role in their care than you do in other environments. In most cases, there is limited access to doctors in these communities, and you often take the lead in your patients’ healthcare.
Disadvantages of Nursing in Remote Areas
Unfortunately, working in remote locations can be a bit of a double-edged sword, and the flip side of most of the above benefits can be felt as disadvantages. In particular, it can be hard to live and work in remote locations. You may have to give up many of the regular hobbies or activities that brighten your day. Generally, these areas don’t have a lot of restaurants, malls, gyms, or similar types of amenities. Additionally, as one of the central healthcare providers in the community, you may find patients approaching you in the grocery store or while you’re mowing your lawn.
Nursing can be an incredibly rewarding career, and if you’re looking for ways to help indigenous communities and people in remote locations, you may want to consider taking advantage of one of these programs. The financial incentives are incredibly promising, and the experiences can be life-changing.