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Brampton councillor asks province to allow more foreign-trained doctors to help with COVID-19 crisis

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By Noor Javed Tues., March 24, 2020

A Brampton councillor is asking the province to eliminate the barriers faced by foreign-trained doctors to practise in Ontario so they can help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an open letter sent to Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliot, Ward 7 Coun. Charmaine Williams said that “red tape” and “artificial barriers” in place prevent international medical graduates from practising, even when many of them are qualified to do so.

“We need more doctors now,” said Williams, in an interview. “Ontario and Canada have thousands of foreign-trained doctors who have been denied the right to practise medicine here.”

Williams estimates that cutting the red tape, and in particular boosting residency positions, could add more than a thousand doctors in the province.

Critics and advocates have long complained about the competitive and difficult process for foreign doctors to be certified in Ontario. While the majority of doctors successfully pass the required exams to get certified, the majority are unable to land a residency position — a required step in obtaining a license to practice in Ontario.

In 2019, the Canadian Residency Matching Service, which is responsible for matching students to residency positions throughout Canada, reported that out of 1,758 international medical graduates, 1,360 went unmatched. Only 326 residency positions were available for foreign-trained professionals in the first round.

“That is a complete waste of talent that we need now, and as the pandemic ramps up in Ontario,” said Williams, who has started a petition at moredoctorsnow.ca to raise awareness of her campaign.

In her letter sent Monday, Williams said the province should move as quickly as possible to flatten the curve, and also “increase our capacity.”

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