Canadian Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh today announced a $75 million federal initiative that is expected to assist more than 2,000 internationally educated health care professionals to put their skills to work in Canada's health care system.
"The whole country benefits when immigrants and internationally educated Canadians are able to make full use of their knowledge and experience," said Minister Dosanjh. "This initiative will strengthen our health system by helping to increase the supply of health care professionals, which will improve access to quality health care and reduce wait times."
The $75 million, which was included in Budget 2005, will be provided over five years. During this period, it is estimated the funding will assist in the assessment and integration into the workforce of up to 1,000 physicians, 800 nurses and 500 other regulated health care professionals. The numbers will vary, however, according to the priorities of provincial and territorial governments.
"This fulfils the Government of Canada's commitment at the First Ministers Meeting last September to accelerate and expand the assessment and integration of internationally educated health care professionals," said Minister Dosanjh. "This complements a series of other measures we are taking in collaboration with provinces and territories and the health care community to provide cities and rural areas across this country with the health care workers they need."
Strengthening the health care workforce is a key objective of the Ten-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care, which all First Ministers signed in September 2004. The Government of Canada is supporting the training and hiring of more health care professionals through the $5.5-billion Wait Times Reduction Fund. In addition, the Pan-Canadian Health Human Resource Strategy provides $20 million per year to improve health care workforce planning, promote the use of interdisciplinary health care teams and increase recruitment and retention of needed health care professionals.
Minister Dosanjh also noted that today's $75 million announcement is part of a wider Internationally Trained Workers Initiative, involving 14 federal departments and agencies.
"The Initiative will improve the integration of immigrants and internationally trained Canadians into the labour force so they can contribute their full potential to Canada and share in its prosperity," said Minister Dosanjh.
The $75 million initiative on internationally educated health care graduates will build on work that is already underway. As part of that work, which received $8.5 million in earlier funding from the Government of Canada, Minister Dosanjh today announced:
* The launch of a national website that will help international medical graduates prepare to become licensed to practice in Canada. The Association of International Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, with funding of $126,356 from Health Canada, took the lead in preparing the online Canadian Information Centre for International Medical Graduates (www.IMG-Canada.ca). The site is a central point of information for international medical graduates, providing comprehensive information on the Canadian health care system and medical licensure requirements, education and training services in different provinces and territories. It also provides information on alternative health care careers. The Website will enable international medical graduates to assess their options and opportunities even before they come to Canada and will be linked to Citizenship and Immigration's "Going to Canada" immigration portal. Minister Dosanjh officially launched the site Monday with Dr. Dale Dauphinee, executive director of the Medical Council of Canada.
* A National Credential Verification Agency will be established by the Medical Council of Canada to provide a streamlined process for verifying the credentials of international medical graduates. After this verification, these graduates can then take an evaluation exam or other steps toward becoming licensed to practice in Canada. The single-source verification service will prevent these graduates from having to get their credentials verified in each province or territory in which they seek licensure. This $1.86 million project is funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
* The Medical Council of Canada will make its evaluation exam more readily accessible to international medical graduates in a $1.34 million project funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. This exam is the first stage in the licensing process for international medical graduates in Canada. The exam will be put into an electronic format to enhance its availability.
* The Canadian Post M.D. Education Registry is receiving $834,625 from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to create a pan-Canadian database with information about international medical graduates that will improve planning for the assessment, training and integration of these graduates.
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