Toronto

Ontario NDP to reveal jobs plan for foreign-trained doctors, nurses

The Ontario NDP will unveil a plan Wednesday aimed at making it easier for doctors and nurses trained outside of Canada to work in their field in the province.

Health care not included in Ford government changes for professionals trained outside Canada

A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient in the Humber River Hospital intensive care unit in Toronto earlier this year. The Ontario NDP is proposing a series of measures to make it easier for doctors and nurses trained outside of Canada to work in their field in the province.  (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The Ontario NDP will unveil a plan Wednesday aimed at making it easier for doctors and nurses trained outside of Canada to work in their field in the province. 

The proposals include measures to smooth the way for foreign-trained doctors and nurses to gain the work experience they need to get accreditation from Ontario's medical regulators.

The New Democrats are pitching the plan as a way to provide better work opportunities to skilled immigrants and to help solve the staffing challenges in Ontario's health system, problems highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It's absolutely a win-win," NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in an interview Tuesday. 

"We have families that don't have a family doctor. We have a health-care system falling apart for lack of front-line nurses," Horwath said.

"We have solutions for that. We just have to actually be serious about breaking down those barriers." 

Thousands of foreign-trained nurses and doctors struggle to get licensed to practise in Ontario. 

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is set to announce measures to smooth the way for foreign-trained doctors and nurses to gain the work experience they need to get accreditation from the province's medical regulators. (Pool)
  • Some 20,000 internationally educated nurses are unable to work in Ontario as they wait for their applications to be processed, according to the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO).
  • More than 2,100 international medical school graduates registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) in 2019, the year before the pandemic brought a dramatic drop in that number.   

The NDP's proposals will include a job-matching program for internationally trained doctors to provide local experience that counts toward their CPSO accreditation. A similar program exists in Alberta.

The plan would make it easier for nurses to apply for clinical placements in Ontario and to have their international nursing experience recognized. 

Horwath is scheduled to announce the plan Wednesday afternoon along with New Democrat MPP Doly Begum. The proposals are to be put into a bill called the Fairness for Ontario's Internationally Trained Workers Act, to be tabled by Begum. 

"This bill puts us on a track to to get people with foreign credentials into the jobs that we know they can do," said Horwath.

Last fall, the Ford government introduced legislation to remove various barriers to employment for some foreign-trained workers, but the health-care sector was specifically excluded. 

A nurse walks toward a patient in the emergency department of Humber River Hospital in Toronto. The NDP is pitching the plan as a way to deal with staffing shortages in Ontario's health-care system — a problem made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

That legislation, part of the government's Working For Workers Act, became law in December. It forces the licensing bodies in such professions as law, accounting, architecture and engineering, as well as the plumbing and electrical trades, to eliminate requirements for Canadian experience

The government created a program for 1,200 internationally trained nurses who are not yet certified in Ontario to work in hospitals, but under direct supervision.

In January, the government invited internationally trained nurses to work in Ontario's long-term care homes, not as nurses but as personal support workers. Their time in the job would not count toward the work experience requirement for registration by the College of Nurses of Ontario.

Earlier this week, the Ford government promised a retention bonus of up to $5,000 for each nurse who remains working in Ontario through September of this year. 

The RNAO says Ontario has the lowest per capita number of registered nurses in Canada, putting the province about 22,000 nurses short of the average in the rest of the country. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now