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 care.

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

5:05 p.m.

Marlene Wyatt Director, Professional Affairs, Dietitians of Canada

I'm involved with the program at Ryerson. It's currently funded; it has been on funding from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration for the past five years, and it graduates, on average, 20 students per year, so a hundred over the course of the five years.

The success rate, as Pat mentioned, on the national certification exam is almost at the same level as graduates of our accredited programs. With that program we do apply, every couple of years, for extended funding. Bridging programs by nature are extremely expensive to operate because you're figuring out what skills and knowledge people have and then equating them to the Canadian system, helping people to develop different skills than they had in their country of origin. And there is a practicum component, so we get back into getting clinical placements.

The average bridging program is probably in the neighbourhood of 16 months, but people who graduate from those bridging programs are fully employed. They pass the exam and they're fully employed, whereas prior to that, I think Christine mentioned, almost no one got through, and they were in low-paying, alcohol and food service-related jobs. The people who get through bridging programs are now getting fair Canadian wages for their work.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Maybe I'll switch to Ms. Nielsen.

Is your experience with bridging programs similar to this?

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science

Christine Nielsen

Absolutely. They do really well during the pilot funding phase. The most expensive thing to do is create curriculum.

There have been several pilot programs that have started and have ceased to exist. British Columbia had one and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology had one. The Michener Institute in Toronto had one, but when it had to move out of its pilot funding, it actually floundered for a few more years. They have a bit more kick-in funding for now.

But the biggest challenge is the sustainable funding. Something like the foreign credential recognition loans pilot project might actually help a student be able to pay the $14,000 or $20,000 tuition that it actually costs, and they can pay that back the first year if they move from a food services industry job that pays about $25,000 a year to being a lab technologist, which pays $50,000 the first year. They can even almost pay it back the first year out.

We think the success of those loans pilots is a really good opportunity for bridging programs to find their sustainable piece.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Okay.

I will just make a comment on the earlier comments made by Ms. Vanderkooy, which was that because the practicum portion of their education—getting the final certification to practise, I would think—is being somewhat rejected by people who are already in the field because it cuts into their income, primarily....

It doesn't cut into their income?

5:10 p.m.

Director, Professional Affairs, Dietitians of Canada

Marlene Wyatt

It cuts into their productivity at work and people judge them by their productivity.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Okay, so they're being judged. They're losing some status because of their productivity.

5:10 p.m.

Director, Professional Affairs, Dietitians of Canada

Marlene Wyatt

Well, because the students take the extra time, they're not able to see as many clients, etc.—

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Could I make my comment?

I owned a business and had apprentices working for my company. I welcomed every one of them, and my carpenters took the time to make sure they were apprenticed properly.

I have a hard time understanding that lack of social responsibility.

5:10 p.m.

Manager, Public Affairs, Dietitians of Canada

Pat Vanderkooy

I understand how you might have misconstrued that piece of it. It's not about not wanting to be a preceptor. In fact, the majority of our dieticians in the workforce survey said that, yes, they had been preceptors at some point. All of us really do enjoy having students, but we know that the system within which we work—this publicly funded health system—judges our profession and funds our work by productivity output statistics.

We are simply caught between a rock and a hard place, in that our departments—our professional contribution in the systems—have to keep up certain productivity statistics while we are preceptoring. That doesn't even account for the coordination of these students within a little system. So there might be six students running around in the hospital or a community program. Who is coordinating them? Who is directing where their placements are going? All of this takes time.

So, in essence, the problem is that there is no funded time to do the preceptoring that the professional people very much enjoy doing. You don't enjoy it when your work is piling up and you essentially have to stay for unpaid overtime. It's a real problem that way.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you, Mr. McColeman. Your time is up.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Is that right? Ah, you're mean.

5:10 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Mr. Stewart, go ahead.

May 7th, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Thank you, Chair. It's a pleasure visiting today.

Thank you to the witnesses.

I'd like to start with Ms. Vanderkooy, if I may. I just have to say that I've seen the value of dieticians firsthand. I have a lot of interaction with the local urban first nation reserve, and the changes it makes in people's lives when they start eating properly just.... It stops folks going further up the medical chain, that's for sure. So thank you for your work.

You said you have a problem with the supply of dieticians: there are not enough dieticians. I just wonder about the distribution. We've heard from surgeons and from dentists who say there is a distribution problem. How about your distribution?

5:10 p.m.

Manager, Public Affairs, Dietitians of Canada

Pat Vanderkooy

We did refer to it.