“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland have repeatedly told Canadians that:
“A Canadian is a Canadian, is a Canadian.”
Prime Minister Trudeau’s vision of Canada is a country where everyone has a real and fair chance to succeed as well.
However, many Canadians, including politicians, know that this is not the case when it comes to immigrant physicians. We, immigrant physicians, seek to make these statements into something more than empty words. Currently we are Canadians on paper only.
We have been sought by the Canadian immigration authorities to help with the ongoing shortage of physicians in Canada. However, we are not allowed to practice in Canada because the healthcare regulatory bodies are not really concerned about the consequences of the lack of timely access of patients to qualified physicians. If they were, they would not have put lots of different, endless barriers in front of highly qualified and experienced immigrant physicians who have even passed the Canadian qualifying medical exams.
This happens while these regulatory bodies allow non-immigrant physicians from certain oil-rich Gulf countries (i.e. visa trainees) practice as resident physicians and fellows without passing any Canadian medical exams just because their governments provide financial incentives to the university faculties of medicine and the ministries of health. Allowing visa trainees to practice in Canada not only poses safety risks to the public, but is also an act of discrimination based on national origin.
The regulatory bodies only allow us to apply to about 10% of residency positions in a very limited specialties. Even if we are matched to a residency position, we are required to sign Return of Service agreements which mandate us to work in underserviced communities for a period of 2-5 years depending on the province.
None of these apply to Canadian medical graduates (CMGs). Also, about 3 to 5% of CMGs (between 85 and 140 each year) fail a Canadian qualifying medical exam, but they treat the public as resident physicians, nevertheless. We excel in this and an additional exam CMGs never take, but we are denied residency positions (more information and evidence about the discrimination is available here).
The argument of the regulatory bodies that immigrant physicians are a concern to the public safety, and that they are protecting the public is an excuse to achieve their goals in limiting the number of practicing physicians. It is hard to believe that they are acting in the best interest of the public.
This is why we have formed the Canadian On Paper Society of Immigrant Physicians Equality. We want
- To educate the general public and politicians about the racial prejudice and systemic discrimination against immigrant physicians in Canada by using different means of communication.
- To promote health and improve access of the public to highly qualified physicians by public policy dialogue and development activities that support a thoughtful and merit-based system of integration of immigrant physicians into the healthcare system of Canada.
- To work to align policies, practices, and administration of licensing and access to employment in the medical field–which currently have the effect of marginalizing, excluding, and fostering prejudice against immigrant physicians–with the Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights, human rights as set out in federal and provincial legislation, and relevant international covenants and agreements to which Canada is a signatory. This work will include seeking legal remedies and supporting representation for immigrant physicians harmed by systemic discrimination at different levels of access to practice opportunities in Canada.
If you share our interests, you are more than welcome to become a member of our society by applying here. Alternatively, if you would like to support us without becoming a member, you may provide us with your information by Clicking Here