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Brampton mayor calls on province to allow thousands of foreign-trained doctors to help in COVID-19 fight

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Codi Wilson, Web Content Writer, CP24 @CodiWilson
Published Tuesday, April 7, 2020 12:03PM EDT
The City of Brampton is calling on the provincial government to allow thousands of internationally trained doctors in Canada to help out on the frontlines amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve got this awesome arsenal of talent ready willing and eager to help keep us safe,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said during a news conference on Tuesday morning, “And I think we can learn from other jurisdictions. If you look at the state of New York and New Jersey, they have taken this approach. They have welcomed foreign-trained doctors into this battlefield of fighting COVID-19.”
Citing analysis by health care advocacy group the Commonwealth Fund, Brown said Canada only has 2.7 practicing physicians per 1,000 people in the country, a figure which lags well behind countries like Norway, which has 4.8 practicing doctors per 1,000 people.

“Our request to the province today… is to make sure people who are ready and willing to help, let’s use their talent. They shouldn’t be working in a packaging plant. They shouldn’t be working in real estate right now when they could be helping save lives,” he added.

Last week, provincial epidemiologists released projections that suggested Ontario could see between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths due to COVID-19 over a two-year period.

“We have physicians who can help run ventilators. We have physicians who can help care for patients who are going through pneumonia. We need these extra hands,” Brown said.

It should be noted that the province is issuing supervised, temporary 30-day licences to some internationally trained doctors.

Qualifying doctors must have completed a medical degree at an accredited medical school, have practiced medicine full-time within the past two years, and must secure an appointment and supervisor in Ontario within one of the approved categories of facilities laid out in the Medicine Act.

But Brampton city councillor Charmaine Williams suggested that the move does not go far enough.

“We are in a state of emergency and it is finally time to put the foreign trained doctors who qualify to work to help keep us healthy and save lives and not just for 30 days but for 30 years,” she said on Tuesday.

According to Brown, HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency estimates that there are currently 13,000 foreign educated doctors and 6,000 foreign educated nurses in the province.

In an open letter to the Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, Brown said the College of Physicians and Surgeons should be “compelled to reduce barriers to registration” for qualified applicants.

The three main barriers preventing foreign trained doctors from obtaining required credentials, Williams said, are the costs associated with the examination process, the infrequency of testing, and the lack of hospital residencies for foreign-trained physicians.

“It is a complete waste of human capital and human potential,” Williams said.

“If these doctors from these cities pass the same exam process, they should be allowed to help us get over this pandemic.”

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