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Ontario regulator eases restrictions for some foreign-trained doctors to work in Canada


Ontario’s physician regulator is making it easier for doctors who were trained in the U.S., Ireland, Australia and Britain to practise medicine in the province, as jurisdictions around the country compete to remove licensing barriers in an effort to address chronic shortages in health care.


The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which licenses and oversees more than 35,000 practising physicians, says it will allow doctors trained and certified in the U.S. to skip exams and begin working immediately. It’s also removing supervision and assessment requirements for family doctors from the U.S., Ireland, Australia and Britain if they have already been approved by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the national certification body, allowing them to practice independently more quickly.


Alberta recently made a similar move, with the announcement of a pilot project targeting physicians from those four countries, offering them a simpler path to licensing. Last month, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to allow physicians who were trained in the U.S. to skip certification exams and begin working immediately.


A recent Globe and Mail investigation found Canada is increasingly losing foreign-trained physicians to other countries, as other developed nations lower barriers to licensing and step up recruitment. And fewer international medical graduates are choosing to start careers in Canada: the number of international applicants to entry-level residency positions has fallen 40 per cent between 2013 and 2022.


Groups that represent foreign-trained doctors say they’re happy Canada’s regulatory colleges are beginning to remove barriers for some physicians. But they note that there are still thousands of physicians who were trained outside the country and are unable to find paths to licensing.


They argue more must be done to remove obstacles that prevent internationally trained doctors from working, at a time when staffing shortages are causing significant problems for Canadian patients, clinics and hospitals.


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