Ontario puts the welcome mat out for out-of-province healthcare workers
Recently announced plans by Ontario to welcome more healthcare professionals from other provinces is overdue and great news for Ontario patients.
The government plans to introduce legislative changes in February to automatically recognize the credentials of healthcare workers registered in other provinces and territories. Presently, anyone in another Canadian jurisdiction who works in a profession that falls under Ontario’s Regulated Health Professions Act must pay to register with one of Ontario’s health regulatory colleges. They then must prove they are eligible to work here, through a process that is needlessly long and complicated.
The Act lists 26 regulated health professions in Ontario in addition to Physicians, Nurses Pharmacists Dentists and optometrists the most recognizable health professionals, also include audiology and speech-language pathology chiropody and podiatry, dentistry, homeopathy, kinesiology, midwifery, naturopathy, and traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
The proposed changes simply recognize that all anyone in a regulated profession needs to provide is a practice certificate granted by their home province, and a copy of their record of standing. The latter document verifies their professional status and shows if they have been disciplined or are operating under any special terms or conditions. Records of standing are directly exchanged between provincial colleges, so there is no chance of them being altered in any way.
Let’s say that an optometrist or psychiatrist has undergone training in Alberta and is certified to practise there. There's no reason to believe they are not qualified to practise in Ontario. The standards for regulated health professionals are the same in each province.
Mobility is a Charter right
According to s.6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, every Canadian citizen or permanent resident has the right “to move to and take up residence in any province … and pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.”
According to a news report, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says it has always supported national licensure for doctors.
“For many years, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement has allowed Canadian physicians licensed in other provinces to receive a licence to practise in Ontario without additional requirements,” the College stated.
True, but it does not say how much red tape is involved currently.
Premier Doug Ford doesn't have to do much to bring about this important change. He can make it happen with the stroke of a pen. While he is at it, he should eliminate any fees associated with moving from province to province.
Beginning of a pan-Canadian registration model
These changes, if passed, will mark the first step toward a pan-Canadian portable registration model for healthcare professionals in Canada.
For information on practising in Ontario as an out-of-province healthcare professional, visit the HealthForceOntario website.
According to a government announcement, the province will help hospitals and other health organizations temporarily increase staffing when they need to fill vacancies or manage periods of high patient volume, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. That will be achieved by allowing nurses, respiratory therapists and others to “work outside of their regular responsibilities or settings, as long as they have the knowledge skill, and judgment to do so.”
Ontario is also adding 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions in the next five years, the news release notes, “the largest expansion of undergraduate and postgraduate education in over 10 years.”