Canada Need More Immigrant Doctors to Help Canada’s Healthcare System.
Federal government opens new health-care stream in Canada‘s economic immigration program
the population in Canada has increased by over five million people in the past ten years, but the number of medical residencies (training positions for doctors) has only increased by 167 during the same period. This makes it harder for many Canadians to find a family doctor. A recent news report mentioned that more than 6.5 million Canadians don’t have regular access to a family doctor. The combination of a growing population and limited availability of doctors is causing problems for people in Canada.
The government, both national and provincial/territorial, is trying to solve this problem by bringing in more healthcare professionals from other countries. They hope that by increasing immigration of qualified doctors and nurses, they can address the shortage of healthcare workers in Canada.
Barriers for current International Medical Graduates
According to Government of Canada data from December 2022, immigrants account for “one out of every four healthcare sector workers” in Canada.
In fact, further broken down by profession, immigrants make up the following percentage of all healthcare workers in Canada:
- 23% of registered nurses
- 35% of nurse aides and [those in] related occupations
- 37% of pharmacists
- 36% of physicians
- 39% of dentists
- 54% of dental technologists and [those in] related occupations
- Even though there is an effort to bring in more doctors from other countries, a news report from CBC News says that foreign-trained doctors, known as International Medical Graduates (IMGs), face challenges in getting a medical residency in Canada. This is because there are limits on how many IMGs can get a spot in the residency programs. Moreover, IMGs find it difficult to practice medicine in Canada because the residency system is controlled by medical schools, and they often prefer their own graduates over foreign-trained doctors.
Dr. Kathleen Ross, the president of the CMA, says Canada doesn’t have enough local doctors to meet healthcare needs. While they need foreign-trained doctors to help, there are problems for these doctors (IMGs) in Canada that can stop them from practicing.
Canada Helps Foreign-Trained Doctors with Credentials Recognition
Canada is not only bringing in more qualified healthcare professionals but is also investing in recognizing foreign credentials. The government plans to give $86 million to 15 organizations to help around 6600 internationally educated health professionals get their credentials recognized, ensuring skilled immigrants receive proper acknowledgment for their qualifications.
Prince Edward Island (PEI): The University of PEI will open a new medical school in the fall of 2025.
British Columbia (BC): BC’s Simon Fraser University, has announced its plan to open a new medical school at the university’s Surrey campus in 2026.
Ontario: The province has committed to the addition of 449 more “postgraduate medical training spaces over the next five years.” Of these, 154 spaces “are expected to come online later” in 2024 at different medical schools across the province.
More steps are being taken to address this gap.
At the federal level, Canada is not only recognizing foreign credentials but also inviting more foreign-trained doctors using Express Entry draws, especially in the healthcare sector. Introduced in May 2023, these draws aim to attract skilled professionals. Additionally, at the provincial level, some provinces are expanding medical training spaces or creating new medical schools.
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