National accuses Kris Faafoi of misleading New Zealanders about evidence behind migrant nurses' residency pathway

The Immigration Minister is being accused by the National Party of misleading New Zealanders about his evidence behind making migrant nurses work for two years before getting residency.

But Kris Faafoi is standing by his decision.

The nursing shortage is so dire that aged care unit manager Sue has been sleeping at work.

"It's really bad. It's as bad as I've ever known it," she said.

They're down four nurses and just cannot get replacements.

"There's lots of things we'd like to do to make things more special for our elderly but we just don't have the time to do that," Sue said.

The Government hopes to attract more migrant nurses by giving them a two-year pathway to residency.

"That is a vast improvement on what they've had pre-COVID and under the last Government," Faafoi said.

The Immigration Minister said this decision was based on Nursing Council data, which showed in 2020 6 percent of migrant nurses left the profession compared to 4 percent of New Zealand nurses.

Kris Faafoi and Nicola Willis.
Kris Faafoi and Nicola Willis. Photo credit: Newshub.

Faafoi said he also got advice from the Ministry of Health, the Home and Community Health Association, and the Aged Care Association.

"There was a concern in the consultation that we did with the Ministry of Health, with the stakeholders, that have been mentioned many times, about retaining nurses," Faafoi said.

But the head of the Home and Community Health Association told Newshub: "On nurse retention, I have absolutely no idea where he got that from. It certainly didn't come from us."

And the Aged Care Association said: "We were never consulted on whether aged care or nursing should be included on the Green Lists."

Instead, the Aged Care Association wanted a two-year pathway but tied to one aged residential care employer so they didn't leave to work at district health boards where they can earn more because of ongoing pay disparity.

"That's what they may have wanted - that's not what they got," Faafoi said.

The Nursing Council also told Newshub it was "not approached by the Minister of Immigration... or any other agency to provide data, advice, or other input to inform the development of new immigration policies", but it does send data from its register to the Ministry of Health.

"The minister has seriously misled the New Zealand public by continually stating that nurses who get their nurses stop nursing," said National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford. "He doesn't have a shred of evidence."

Faafoi said they're "happy with the position we're in now".

While he may be happy with his decisions, many others are not.