Evidence of meeting #5 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 federal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Rob Walsh  Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons
  • Christine Nielsen  Executive Director, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science
  • Jim McKee  Executive Director, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
  • Jill McCaw  Coordinator, Integration Project, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
  • Charles Shields  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists
  • Giulia Nastase  Manager, Special Projects, Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

October 18th, 2011 / 4:40 p.m.

Jill McCaw Coordinator, Integration Project, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

The outcome of this process will be a decision that a candidate either qualifies directly for admission into the profession and will be directed to the designated provincial/territorial licensing body, or requires skill upgrading in certain areas in order to qualify for licensure, or does not have competencies required for licensure in Canada and should pursue alternative career paths.

Candidates who do meet the competency standards for practice in Canada have the potential to be licensed as an architect within a Canadian jurisdiction several years sooner than currently is the case. From the moment they finalize their self-assessment, candidates should be scheduled for a face-to-face interview and be advised of their results within one calendar year. A candidate licensed in any jurisdiction in Canada through this process will be able to pursue practice anywhere in the country.

With respect to required skills upgrading, I should add that the financial support provided by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is also being committed to the development of online distance learning courses that will be offered through the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.

As was mentioned earlier, the new assessment system is in the pilot stage. The first pilot took place in Vancouver in March 2011, and two more are scheduled for January and March of 2012, including one pilot focusing on French language candidates. The system will be refined through these pilots prior to receiving final endorsement from provincial and territorial regulators. Again, our objective is to launch the system operationally in September 2012.

As we move forward, one issue that our provincial and territorial colleagues will be addressing with their governments is amendments, where required, to adapt the legislative framework for this new approach.

Much of the work remains ahead of us, but we have made significant progress to date, thanks in no small part to the strong support being provided to this project by all of the provincial and territorial regulatory bodies, the volunteer commitment of the BEFA task force membership, and the Canadian Architectural Certification Board.

We welcome the opportunity to provide you with additional information in the question and answer session.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you very much for that presentation.

We'll move on to Mr. Shields.

4:45 p.m.

Charles Shields Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

Thank you very much, Mr. Komarnicki.

I am Chuck Shields. I am the CEO of the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists. With me is Giulia Nastase, the special projects manager in our office, who is looking after our work in the area related to internationally educated medical radiation technologists or, as you'll hear me referring to them, IEMRTs.

I will speak in English, but it would be our pleasure to answer any questions in French as well.

We are pleased to be working with HRSDC and Health Canada and have been working with them for several years to work with IMRTs, to help them be successful with the certification process and to enter practice in Canada.

I'd like to start by saying a little about us, as an association. We were founded in 1942. We are governed by a board of 14 members from across the country, representing every province and all disciplines.

The mission of the association is to serve and support members and to provide patients with the highest quality of medical imaging and radiation therapy care. CAMRT ensures that all medical radiation technologists are certified as having the knowledge, skills, and judgment to enter practice through the development of services and tools that help MRTs to continue to practise safely and effectively in a rapidly evolving field.

As the national voice for the profession, CAMRT is engaged internationally and promotes the effective contribution of MRTs in the Canadian health system discussions and decisions.

We have 12,000 members, of about 17,000 practitioners in the country. These are divided among four disciplines. This is important because our work involves MRTs from all four disciplines. One is radiographers, which includes CT technologists, mammographers, intervention radiographers, and those conducting general X-ray; radiation therapists, who are involved with cancer treatment; nuclear medicine technologists; and magnetic resonance imaging technologists.

MRTs are highly trained professionals who perform medical imaging and radiation-based therapy procedures. They work closely with radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians, who interpret the results of procedures, and with radiation oncologists, who direct radiation-based cancer treatment.

We have two primary roles as an association. First, we are the national certifying body. This we share with the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science. Second, we are a professional association. As a certifying body, we develop the national entry-to-practice competency profiles, which are core to much of what we do. They are the basis for the examinations. They are the basis for the education programs for the profession. We also develop the certification exams, and we work closely with the provincial regulatory bodies.

As a professional association, we have an extensive continuing professional development program. We work on advancing professional practice and we have an advocacy program.

It was in our role as a certifying body that we noticed and became involved in working with internationally educated medical radiation technologists. Over the years, as we've worked with them, we've developed a conceptual framework that sees the task as a continuum—working with the IMRTs in their native countries as they are first considering emigration, from their point of view, all the way through the assessment preparation and the certification process to their successful integration into the Canadian health system.

We've been fortunate to have a series of projects funded by HRSDC. The first one was completed in 2006 and was titled “A Situational Analysis and Recommendations for Internationally Educated Medical Radiation Technologists”. In that project we collected supply and demand information for the profession related to the profession overall and IMRTs. We evaluated the assessment and certification processes and identified challenges and barriers. There were 22 recommendations that were published in that report, and to date we have acted on and implemented 19 of them.

Phase two built on the first project and was titled “Leading The Way: Ensuring an assessment and certification process that is fair, efficient, and valid for international applicants”. In that project we developed preparation guides and practice exams for all four disciplines. They are available online and have been accessed by over 1,700 IMRTs to date.

We also conducted research regarding the exam performances of IMRTs to identify areas where they had difficulty, and we worked with stakeholders from around the country to identify national guidelines for bridging programs.

The work on that project led to a third one, which we are now in the process of wrapping up. It started in 2009 and goes to the end of this year. One component of it is entitled “National Guidelines for the Assessment of Credentials of IMRTs”, and the second is “Education Upgrading and Exam Preparation Courses”. In the national guidelines, we have worked with regulators at the provincial level and provinces to develop credential assessment guidelines that address language proficiency, education programs, and work experience. In the education upgrading area, we focused and used the research we had done in the previous project to identify and develop three online courses, which are nearing completion, that get at 70% of the content area where IMRTs have difficulty.

Once these are in place and available online, it should be noted that these will be available to be taken by the IMRTs when they are in their home country, even before they move to Canada, should they decide to do that.

We also have a project in the proposal stage entitled “Education upgrading and exam preparation courses: Delivery and testing of online exam preparation courses”. This will use those three courses, offer them free of charge for three years, gather information, and analyse how effective they are in helping IMRTs.

We will also develop a competency-based exam module, because our exams are competency-based and that often is difficult for IMRTs who aren't trained in that way. We will also be developing a module to assist IMRTs in entering employment in Canada.

We've also been fortunate to receive support from Health Canada. One of these was a project that is very near to ending completion at the end of this month. That is called “Online Readiness Self-Assessment tools”. You will hear some commonalities between our different organizations. This one is providing an overview of life and practice in the profession in Canada. It provides the IMRT with more information to make an educated decision about immigration and whether to apply for certification in Canada.

I'd like to move now to talk briefly about our experience with the foreign credential review program funding. In a couple of words, I'd say it's been a very positive experience. We find that the process has been straightforward. The application, templates, and forms are available and easy to use. They also provide support in working with our staff in proposal development and review. We find the staff is knowledgeable and involved. They're able to advise, provide support to us, and they're flexible in managing the scope of the project. We also find that the reporting requirements are clear.

As far as the impact of the funding, as a small organization, we would not have been able to do the work we've been able to do had we not received the support from HRSDC and the funding from Health Canada. It is crucial. It helps us provide programs that get to the needs of IMRTs. It assists IMRTs, but also there is an overflow impact and benefit for Canadians. Employers are assisted by having IMRTs who can move into employment situations more easily. The general public and patients are assisted by enhancing and ensuring that the IMRTs are able to practise safely. Canadian-educated medical radiation technologists have been able to use many of the same tools to great benefit. We've been finding them to be quite positive.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

You've gone quite over time and you've got a lot to go. Maybe you could sum up.

4:55 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

Charles Shields

I just have a few recommendations to get to.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Okay, if you could.

4:55 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

Charles Shields

Based on the experience we have, there are three things I'd like to suggest. First is to increase attention on the language capacity. We would suggest this might be done at the screening of possible immigrants, providing access to language training once in Canada.

Second is to develop a scholarship or loan program for IMRTs, like a Canada student loans program, to participate in bridging programs. By receiving this funding, IHPs or internationally educated medical radiation technologists can support the programs they choose to attend through the funding they are receiving. At the same time, they would be able to continue to work.

Third, we think it's very important that those bridging programs include time in supervised clinical practice. That is going to require involvement of provinces, however, because health is a provincial responsibility.

Thank you very much. I look forward to answering questions that members of the committee might have.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you very much for that presentation.

We're going to start with Madam Perreault.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault Montcalm, QC

I have two questions.

First, I would like to know if you ever get any complaints from foreign workers whose qualifications have been recognized by your organization, but who are unable to find a job.

I would also like to know whether, conversely, you ever receive complaints from employers about workers they have hired and who do not meet their expectations, especially in terms of qualifications.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Could you each answer that? Perhaps we'll start with Christine.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science

Christine Nielsen

Sure. Thank you.

One of our recent projects is assessing the integration of two to seven years post-licensure for five professions. This includes Chuck's profession, medical radiation technologist, and medical laboratory technologist, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and pharmacists. We looked all across Canada to address the challenge of barriers in entering the workforce.

We found that someone who has been internationally educated lacks the network that Canadians have, but they do enter the labour market and appear to have more job satisfaction than domestic graduates. So they are finding work in the five professions and they seem to be more satisfied with the workplace experience than someone who is Canadian trained. This was a surprise to us, but that's why we do research, to try to prove things that you hypothesize about and are not sure of.

In regard to complaints from employers, our experience is this large on the continuum of employer attitudes towards immigrants. There are people who would hire someone who is internationally trained over someone who is Canadian trained any day because they bring a different basket of tools. Then there are others who have had a single bad experience and never want to hire one again. So they fit everywhere in between that continuum.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Did you have something to add, Mr. Shields?

4:55 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

Charles Shields

We do not receive any feedback, either from the employers or the technologists themselves. It appears that they are able to find jobs. However, given the work she does, Christine has more research-based information about that.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Mr. McKee.

5 p.m.

Executive Director, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Jim McKee

For instance, when it comes to architects who arrive in Canada with a significant amount of experience under their belt, the obstacle has more to do with the obligation to obtain a licence in order to be recognized as an architect. That process is seen as an expensive one, even more so than in the case of lawyers, for instance, who open a practice.

Actually, the status of foreign architects who find a job in an architectural firm is inferior to that of an architect. They find themselves lacking the motivation to advance in order to go through the steps leading to the official recognition as architects and the acquisition of all the authority related to that status. That's the main obstacle.