Published on : February 6, 2024
More than 1 in 5 adults in Canada do not have access to a family doctor.
According to the OurCare initiative, the number of Canadians lacking regular access to a family physician or nurse practitioner has gone up to an estimated 6.5 million in 2023. The number was 4.5 million in 2019. A pan-country initiative, the OurCare project gathered inputs from the general population. The survey was completed by 9000+ people in Canada during September 20 to October 25, 2022.
Canada has seen a population boom of more than 5 million people in the last 10 years. Around 165 medical residencies were added over the same period. Canadians have been finding it increasingly difficult to get access to a family doctor on a regular basis.
In addition to the population spurt, there are also many other factors that have worked against the availability of family doctors. There is a declining interest in family medicine among medical graduates. Also, there is a minimal growth in medical residencies.
The Canadian Government is looking at an increased immigration of qualified healthcare professionals to the country.
1 out of every 4 healthcare workers in Canada is an immigrant.
As per the official statistics for Canada, immigrants make up -
Source: Statistics Canada
Over 1.6 million work in the health sector in Canada. Many more will be needed in the years to come. Around 500,000 healthcare workers are aged 55+ years and a majority will be retiring within the next 10 years.
Moreover, Canada is facing recruitment challenges to fill the gap from within the country. There is a clear requirement for immigrants in the Canadian healthcare sector.
Foreign nationals trained as doctors in other countries often face difficulties in obtaining a medical residency in Canada. There is a quota on the total number of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who can be granted medical residency.
Also, the medical system is generally run by medical schools that favour their own graduates. This leads to IMGs facing challenges in practicing medicine in Canada.
Canada needs foreign-trained doctors to support the healthcare industry. The government is working towards removing the present hurdles being faced by the International Medical Graduates in practicing medicine in Canada.
As per a January 15, 2024, News Release by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), Canada is “helping 6600 internationally educated healthcare professionals work in Canada”. The Canadian Government is investing in expediting the accreditation process for internationally educated health professionals (IEHP).
Up to $86 million in funding has been announced for 15 organizations across Canada. This will help to increase the capacity for foreign credential recognition for around 6600 IEHPs. Highly skilled foreign workers will get due recognition of their international credentials.
According to Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, Randy Boissonnault, “The Foreign Credentials Recognition speeds up the accreditation for 6600 people, and is not only the right thing to do, but one of the best ways we can fill labour gaps, strengthen our healthcare system and grow our economy”.
The Canadian Government is prioritizing immigrants in healthcare occupations. The Express Entry category-based selection focuses on 10 healthcare occupations.
A unique code is given to each occupation based on the National Occupational Classification.
In 2023, Canada introduced category-based selection. Healthcare professionals have a higher probability of receiving an invitation to apply (ITA) under Canada Express Entry.
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