Evidence of meeting #36 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was health.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Danielle Fréchette  Director, Health Policy and External Relations, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • Robert Sutherland  President, Canadian Dental Association
  • Euan Swan  Manager, Dental Programs, Canadian Dental Association
  • Pat Vanderkooy  Manager, Public Affairs, Dietitians of Canada
  • Noura Hassan  President, Canadian Federation of Medical Students
  • Chloé Ward  Vice-President, Advocacy, Canadian Federation of Medical Students
  • Christine Nielsen  Executive Director, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science
  • Marlene Wyatt  Director, Professional Affairs, Dietitians of Canada

4:15 p.m.

President, Canadian Dental Association

Dr. Robert Sutherland

I wouldn't have information in terms of the numbers applying versus the number of seats. We could try to get that information.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

It's been a theme that has come out through the course of the study that if you're able to allow people in rural communities the opportunity to understand that the training opportunities are there, then they go back and serve those communities. That's really when everybody benefits. They're much more comfortable within the community.

I guess the question comes back to how we are educating first nations communities that those opportunities are there. How are we making sure they're aware that those training opportunities exist?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

We'll conclude with the response to that.

Mr. Swan, did you have a comment?

4:15 p.m.

Manager, Dental Programs, Canadian Dental Association

Dr. Euan Swan

It's a very good question, and I don't have that information right now. This weekend the Canadian Dental Association's committee on the dental admission test is meeting here in Ottawa. That's a question I can take to that committee and get back to you with the information.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Does anyone else wish to make a comment?

Ms. Fréchette, go ahead.

4:15 p.m.

Director, Health Policy and External Relations, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Danielle Fréchette

Thank you.

I think a strategic investment in our aboriginal health workforce would help us go a long way. The cultural sensitization is a very, very large job, but to empower aboriginal peoples to care for themselves in their own settings I think is the winning solution for us. It's investing in mentoring programs, financial assistance, and providing extra resources within our educational infrastructure so that we can really integrate them, because they don't come with the benefits that the likes of me present with.

We're actually developing a program at the Royal College right now for our underserviced populations. If we can think of some of the approaches for aboriginal peoples, we could probably then generalize them for other populations as well. We're hoping to go that way.

It's the medical profession trying to be responsive to societal health needs within its own limited resources. I think partnering with some national resources would help the program go a lot further more quickly. Then we could probably apply some of these strategies to help integrate our international medical graduates as well.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

Mr. Sutherland, did you wish to make a comment?

4:15 p.m.

President, Canadian Dental Association

Dr. Robert Sutherland

To come back to an earlier question on the numbers of students, over the past 20 years there's been a consistent 0.6% increase annually in the number of educational positions. It has steadily increased each and every year over the past 20 years, and it has kept pace with the OECD average as well.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

Mr. Shory, go ahead.

May 7th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and my thanks to the witnesses for coming here this afternoon.

I want to thank my colleague from across the way, Ms. Charlton, for promoting the story I have been talking about for years and years, about the taxi driver and the doctor. I'm not a doctor by profession, but I have lived through this problem of foreign qualification recognition. It's my passion and one of the reasons I came to politics.

During the study, I found out that the skilled worker point system gives points based upon years of education. Nowhere does it recognize your education as a doctor or an engineer. Basically, it does not qualify you to have the same profession once you come to Canada. That is one fact I found out after doing some study.

When we were having our study on foreign qualification recognition—Ms. Fréchette, this will be for you—the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada agreed that there was a shortage of doctors in each province and territory. There was no question about that. They also mentioned that recognizing or training these foreign-qualified doctors would put pressure on provincial and territorial medical regulatory authorities, which would have to register and license these graduates.

We all know there is a shortage. We all know that we do not want to lower our standards. So what do we do? You talked about matching immigration policies with needs. How can we make improvements to foreign qualification recognition without lowering the standard? What is the number one roadblock preventing foreign-trained medical professionals from getting into the system?

4:20 p.m.

Director, Health Policy and External Relations, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Danielle Fréchette

Documentation is a huge barrier—to have your qualifications recognized. It comes in variable forms, in different languages, and it's not consistent from one jurisdiction to the other. You're trying to estimate the baseline qualifications of an individual. They could have 15 years of training and all the points that go with it, but what kind of training did they have? Training as a general surgeon is really great, but if you've only observed some appendectomies and you might have tried a couple, does that qualify you as a proper general surgeon?

The documentation is probably top of my list, and it has been identified in other research as well. Providing some resources to the physicians abroad so that they could provide standardized documentation would help speed up the process of having credentials recognized.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

If we had targeted immigration, say, pre-certification of medical professionals, would that help us?

4:20 p.m.

Director, Health Policy and External Relations, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Danielle Fréchette

It's a stage process. If the Medical Council of Canada qualifying examination was offered offshore in a number of languages, you could establish certain baselines. You could adjust the expectations of the physicians wishing to immigrate, so they'd know if they were close to being able to practise or if they should be looking at a longer path of training. It could also help the jurisdictions better understand what kind of individual is coming into their community, so that they could provide the proper resources. At the end of the day, the objective is to integrate our internationally educated physicians into meaningful work. Ontario's program for physician assistants allows for the reintegration of physicians who really don't have the appetite for all of the required training but who want to continue to work in medicine.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

I understand, but the frustration is that I don't see a clear pathway for so many professionals, and that's where we are seeking some help.

I understand clearly as well that there are jurisdictional issues. Provinces and territories have the jurisdiction on all these things. At the federal level, our government has taken the leadership role by establishing this pan-Canadian framework, which hopefully will help, and it has been helping to an extent.

I'm looking for some suggestions on how we can help with foreign qualification recognition or in addressing the issue of this shortage of skilled workers.