Opinion: Parties should remove barriers for IEHPs

Internationally educated health professionals are already a core part of Canada's health-care system.

Healthy Debate 2 minute read 2 days ago
internationally trained health professionals

Internationally trained health professionals are already a core part of Canada's medical community. (Getty)

Editor’s noteThe following is an open letter from more than 50 civil society organizations and groups and 200 individuals calling on federal party leaders to address licensure barriers faced by Internationally Educated Health Professionals (IEHPs). The signatories to the letter can be found here.

We the under-signed civil society organizations and groups call on federal party leaders to address long-standing licensure and employment barriers facing internationally educated health professionals as your commitment to Canadians in the 2021 federal election.

As you are aware, Canada’s health-care system is facing a multifaceted crisis.

  • Health-care workers are burnt out and exhausted due to their pandemic response efforts.
  • The needs of our health-care system are growing as our population ages.
  • Today we are facing shortages of health professionals, and that is projected to become more severe in the years ahead.
  • Internationally Educated Health Professionals (IEHPs) already are a core part of our health-care system and represent a fundamental part of the solution to our health-care needs.

However, the skills and experience IEHPs bring to Canada are extremely underutilized. This has weakened our pandemic response capacity and perpetuates race, gender and human rights inequities.

Canadians want a government that will prioritize the process to design and implement a national strategy that will effectively and equitably integrate the thousands of immigrants who are internationally educated health professionals into the health-care system swiftly while meeting or exceeding quality of care standards.

A national strategy would:

  • Rebuild and strengthen Canada’s health-care human resources and fortify the health-care system.
  • Address the longstanding underutilization of the skills of Canada’s IEHPs.
  • Address the needs of francophone IEHPs in primarily English-language communities.
  • Re-invest in the health-care workforce for the future and reduce economic losses associated with underutilization.
  • Provide inclusive, linguistically and culturally representative patient-care services for an increasingly diverse population.
  • Empower talented IEHPs economically, professionally and personally.
  • Modernize and scale up the equitable integration of IEHPs across all sectors of the health-care system.

Your parties have made certain health-care commitments in the 2021 election campaign. But what is missing and important for Canadians to know during the campaign period is how your party plans to solve our health-care crisis by utilizing IEHPs who can contribute to solutions that benefit everyone.