Updated: Sep 18, 2022
A Report on the Findings of the ITPO ITPs Backgrounder Survey
There is a significant healthcare worker shortage in Canada. There are approximately 5 million Canadians without a family doctor (1), with more than 1 million people without a family doctor in Ontario alone (2). Inadequate or unavailable primary care will negatively impact the health of all Canadians, and unfortunately, marginalized populations will experience the impact disproportionately. Healthcare worker shortages across the country are also leading to Emergency Department (ED) closures and earlier retirement of physicians (3,4). The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated what would have become an inevitable issue without timely, efficient, and equitable policies to address the healthcare workforce shortage (5,6).
Despite the healthcare worker crisis in Canada and the impact on the state of the Canadian healthcare system. Internationally Trained Physicians (ITPs) remain underutilised in the healthcare system. When seeking to quantify this underutilisation, the large gap in data surrounding ITPs becomes apparent. The Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario (ITPO) recently conducted a survey that highlights the diversity of this pool of physicians. The results highlight how diversity in culture, clinical experience and expertise with certain medical conditions and patient groups make ITPs well suited to help rebuild the Canadian healthcare system and achieve equitable healthcare for all Canadians.
Without action, the indirect impacts of the pandemic on these areas will continue to worsen rapidly:
1. The quality of healthcare and access to healthcare for marginalized populations, including Indigenous Peoples and the immigrant population that continues to grow.
2. The backlogs of surgical procedures and testing.
3. The wait times to see specialists.
4. The preventive programs including cancer and chronic illness screening.
5. The management of chronic illnesses and secondary/tertiary prevention.
The incorporation of qualified ITPs is a significant part of the solution. However, numerous pieces must be put in place for this to become a reality.
1. A multistakeholder table, that includes ITPs, to develop policies that lead to the equitable and efficient incorporation of skilled ITPs into the Canadian Healthcare system.
2. Implement a Regulated Clinical Assistant Program in Ontario that acts as a steppingstone to a licensure pathway and expand and amend these programs in provinces where they already exist.
3. Implement the Practice Ready Assessment Program Canada-wide and expand these programs in provinces where they already exist.
4. Provide an equitable increase in the number of residency spots for ITPs via the Canadian Resident Matching Services (CaRMS), especially in the areas of greatest need.