Expanding Pathways to Licensure for Internationally Trained Physicians in Ontario: How to Get There and Why It Matters
Caroline Ewen, World Education Services (WES)
Dr. Makini McGuire-Brown, Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario (ITPO)
Dr. Joanna Walters, Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario (ITPO)
Dr. Renée Richards, Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario (ITPO)
Joan Atlin, World Education Services (WES)
Karl Flecker, World Education Services (WES)
The health care system in Ontario is in crisis. More than 1.3 million Ontarians don’t have access
to a family doctor, leading many people to turn to emergency departments or urgent care clinics
for issues that would be better addressed by a primary care provider. At the same time,
Internationally Trained Physicians (ITPs) continue to face significant systemic barriers to
becoming licensed and returning to medical practice. Practical, proven measures exist that
would enable ITPs to contribute their skills and training to the provincial health system.
This policy brief examines the stakeholder commitments, policy changes, and investments
required to fully integrate ITPs into the Ontario health care workforce. It also discusses the
associated benefits, including better access to care and a more equitable and sustainable
health care system.
Required Policy Changes
Taken together, these policy changes – Practice-Ready Assessments, equitable access to
residency training, and establishment of Clinical Assistant as a defined class of registration –
have the potential to rapidly increase the physician-to-population ratio and number of physicianextenders
throughout Ontario. Investment in these solutions should lead to improvements in
health care equity and patient health and well-being. It should also lead to cost savings in
training; savings related to improved access to primary care and reduced burdens on
emergency rooms; and greater efficiency in the health-human resource system, including
increased use of valuable ITP skills.
The issue of insufficient physician supply exists within the wider context of a rapidly
deteriorating health care system. Rebuilding the health care system that Ontarians deserve will
depend on new forms of collaboration among government, educational institutions, regulatory
bodies, physicians (including ITPs), employer organizations, and allied stakeholders. All must
commit to implementing lasting solutions at scale so that ITPs’ experience and training is
utilized to full advantage.
Recommended Citation: Ewen, C., McGuire-Brown, M., Walters, J., Richards, R., Atlin, J. and Flecker, K. (2023). Expanding Pathways to Licensure for Internationally Trained Physicians in Ontario: How to Get There and Why It Matters Toronto: World Education Services. Retrieved from www.wes.org/ca