Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Media Statement: Internationally Trained Physicians’ Access Coalition (ITPAC) Response to Ontario’s Bill 27 “Working for Workers Act, 2021”
ONTARIO, November 2, 2021 --The Internationally Trained Physicians’ Access Coalition (ITPAC) commends the recent legislation from the Government of Ontario prohibiting regulatory bodies from including Canadian experience requirements, and urgently calls on government to extend this change to regulated health professions.
The proposed legislation (specifically, Schedule 3: Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006) represents a pragmatic shift that can help to remove some of the barriers facing internationally trained professionals by enabling more efficient processes related to obtaining professional registration and employment. However, the legislation does not currently include regulated health occupations.
This legislation aims to address labour shortages by removing barriers to employment for internationally trained immigrants, “who often have the training, experience, and qualifications to work in booming industries where Ontario desperately needs help but are being denied a chance to contribute” (Government of Ontario, October 21, 2021).
The Government of Ontario has expressed the intention to “…allow applicants to register faster in their regulated professions when there are emergencies (such as a pandemic)…” Applying similar changes to reduce the barriers for internationally trained physicians and other regulated health professions is critical to tackle the current pandemic and health issues that will follow.
We at ITPAC believe that now is the time to, efficiently and effectively, support the integration of immigrant physicians, who bring invaluable experience and knowledge, into Ontario’s healthcare system. “In the interest of a well-equipped healthcare system, internationally trained physicians need a simpler and more efficient rubric for professional registration and practice” says ITPAC representative Dr Afsheen Mehar. The need is clear, as Canada falls below the OECD average for physician-to-patient ratio. Statistics Canada data reveal that almost 5 million Canadians do not have a regular healthcare provider. In Ontario, patients experience inequitable access to primary care and longer specialty wait times in comparison to four other provinces, with a median wait time to see a specialist of 74.5 days.
“ITPAC stands ready to work with the Ontario government to find ways to remove barriers so that more internationally trained physicians (ITPs) can fully contribute to supporting the health and well-being of Ontarians” says Dr Fernando Rivas. “We acknowledge and understand the complexity of healthcare and we have unique insights into the lived experience of the ITP that would bolster the discussion. We are ready to provide meaningful input toward the inclusion of health professions in the pragmatic efforts to move immigrants into jobs commensurate with their education and skills” says Dr Makini McGuire-Brown.
“The current pathways ITPs to certification and licensure are rigid, and discriminatory; let’s work together to create a level playing field for all” says Dr. Shafi Bhuiyan.
About the Internationally Trained Physicians Access Coalition (ITPAC): ITPAC is an alliance of groups/organizations of internationally trained physicians (ITPs), as well as allied groups/organizations, including World Education Services (WES). ITPAC works to galvanize the efforts of ITPs advocating for systems change to enable their skills and experience to benefit the Canadian healthcare system, and to enable ITPs to pursue careers in medicine.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Afsheen Mehar is an Internationally Trained Physician from Pakistan and holds an LMCC certificate in Canada. She is an active board member of the AIPSO-Association of international physicians and surgeons of Ontario.
Dr. Fernando Rivas is an Internationally Trained Physician from Colombia. He is a dynamic representative of the International Doctors' Network. While he is not currently licensed to practice in Canada he returns frequently to Colombia to retain recency of medical practice.
Dr Makini McGuire-Brown is an Internationally Trained Physician from Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently chair of Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario (ITPO) and has interest in contributing to the healthcare sector both as a clinician and in a policy/administrative role. She holds an MBA with a focus on the Health Industry from the Schulich School of Business, York University and is currently pursuing her PhD in Administration at the same institution. Her research explores team effectiveness in health organisations and accountability within health.
Dr. Shafi Bhuiyan, PhD is an Internationally Trained Medical Doctor (ITMD) from Bangladesh. He is a co-founder of ITMDs postgraduate bridge training program and chair of the ITMDs Canada Network (iCaN). Dr Bhuiyan is a co-creator of Pilot - MScCH program for internationally educated health professionals at DLSPH, U of T. He is also outgoing chair of Canadian coalition for global health research, and passionate mentor for internationally trained health professionals integration in the healthcare sector career both in licensed and non-licensed occupations. He holds an MBA in Global Health Management, MPH in Urban Health and PhD in Human Sciences. Throughout his career, Dr. Bhuiyan’s focus has been on improving the deployment and refinement of global health resources to improve health system performance and its equity in local and global contexts.
Dr. Akm Alamgir, PhD is a medical doctor registered with Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council. He is an Adjunct Professor with York University and the Manager of Quality and Accountability Systems at Access Alliance in Toronto. He is a mixed-method community-based implementation researcher having a doctoral degree in evaluation, a master's degree in epidemiology, and a bachelor's degree in medicine. His research focuses on vulnerable populations that include immigrants, newcomers, and refugees. He researched labour market barriers for internationally trained health professionals in Toronto to find solutions. He spearheads the agenda of meaningful integration of the internationally trained medical doctors by effective discussions and negotiations with the policy planners in Ontario.
Download the full statement below.