This paper recommends ways to unlock the talent of internationally educated health professionals by addressing barriers related to three areas: immigration status, the registration (licensure) process, and employment opportunities. Implementation of the recommendations will help to achieve:
The paper also recommends the development of an Ontario health human resources strategy that recognizes internationally educated health professionals as an integral component of the health care system. This would be a data-informed, multi-stakeholder strategy enabling Ontario to benefit from the talent of all health professionals.
The idea of employing the untapped talent of internationally educated professionals to bolster Ontario’s health care system is not new, but it has gained a new urgency.
We have long known that labour shortages and the health demands of an ageing population have increased the strain on a system that is stretched to capacity. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the problem while also aggravating it. In many professions – such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, respiratory therapy, and medical laboratory technology – the pandemic has added unprecedented pressure, often resulting in burnout and departures on top of anticipated retirements.
The public is worried, and rightly so, about whether the health care system will be there to help them when they need it. Low staffing levels, cancelled surgeries, long wait times, and onerous demands on hospitals due to COVID-19 contribute to public calls to address the situation. Interest in making internationally educated professionals part of the solution is growing, as reflected by the significant rise in media attention to this issue since the start of the pandemic.
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