- Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre has proposed a “Blue Seal” standard that would allow qualified doctors and nurses to work in any province or territory in Canada.
- The lack of mobility for doctors has been identified as a significant problem in Canada’s healthcare system, with lengthy application processes and fees.
- The Canadian Medical Association has advocated for pan-Canadian licensure to create a more efficient and flexible system.
- Provinces have independently moved to ease cross-border restrictions, with some accepting U.S. board certifications for doctors and speeding up the application process for Canadian and international nurses.
Ottawa, Canada: On March 19, 2023, Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre called for a national standards system to be established to allow qualified doctors and nurses to work in any province or territory in Canada. Poilievre proposed a “Blue Seal” standard, which would apply to the national competency test for a worker’s profession. If healthcare workers pass the test, they will be quickly licensed and able to work anywhere that adopts the new standard. The system aims to reduce personnel shortages in the healthcare system and allow Canadian healthcare workers to stay in the country, rather than move abroad. It would also make it easier for foreign-trained doctors and nurses to get jobs in Canada.
Proposal Backed by the Canadian Medical Association
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has identified the lack of mobility for doctors as a significant issue in Canada’s healthcare system. According to the CMA, trying to move between provinces typically involves a lengthy application process, sometimes lasting for months, and thousands of dollars in fees. The CMA has advocated for pan-Canadian licensure, which it believes would create a more efficient and flexible system. The organization also supports changes that would allow more Canadian doctors who are currently working abroad to return home. However, the CMA believes that the system requires wholesale reform rather than merely bringing more workers into a system in need of significant repair.
Provinces Loosening Restrictions
Several provinces have independently moved to ease cross-border restrictions. British Columbia implemented a similar policy in January, and Ontario is moving ahead with allowing doctors from other areas to work more efficiently. The Atlantic provinces recently decided to create a new registry of doctors interested in working across the region. Nova Scotia has also announced that it will accept U.S. board certifications for doctors, meaning they will not have to undergo additional certification when they look to work in the province. Additionally, the province has announced a similar process for nurses both in and outside of Canada.
Federal Government’s Recent Health-Care Proposals
The federal government recently concluded a series of bilateral deals with provinces, including a general increase in the Canada Health Transfer over the next few years. The deals called for better data sharing and reporting between provinces and the federal government. The government has also proposed a national recognition of credentials and commitments to ease the way for foreign-trained workers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that the government would be asking provinces and territories to recognize credentials Canada-wide so that well-trained healthcare professionals could work wherever there is a need.