Recent changes to the temporary foreign worker program haven’t affected Prairie Mountain Health’s efforts to recruit doctors, says its CEO.
The regional health authority is short on doctors in a number of Westman communities, but changes to the program aren’t adding to the problem.
“I don’t think it is having a significant impact here ... I will continue to monitor, but for right now, from a physician standpoint, there hasn’t been a significant impact,” CEO Penny Gilson said.
The Globe and Mail recently reported that recruiters complained the changes — intended to address the abuse of the temporary foreign worker program — serve to hinder efforts to hire physicians from overseas.
In particular, the required fees and paperwork were seen as an obstacle to securing doctors.
That includes a labour market impact assessment, meant to ensure that positions can’t be filled locally by Canadians, which Gilson said now appears more complex. It also now comes with a $1,000 fee.
A federal official stated that the government planned to now base administration of the program on wage, which would speed up doctor applications, the Globe and Mail reported.
However, Gilson said Prairie Mountain’s current recruiting technique avoids the controversy.
The local RHA recruits immigrants who were trained doctors in their home country, but have spent some time in Canada already, so many have landed immigrant status here. They’ve lived in Canada, working other jobs, until they could attain their Canadian medical licence.
Some may have been unable to get their licence in the parts of Canada where they initially settled, then apply through Manitoba.
Their status in Canada avoids the need for a labour market assessment.
“They’ve already immigrated to Canada,” Gilson said. “It’s not like we’re bringing them from abroad directly to go through our international medical graduate assessment process.”
And so, Prairie Mountain Health hasn’t been affected by the new temporary foreign worker program yet. But Gilson says that may change if the RHA opts to directly recruit from overseas in the future — the paperwork, fees and assessment would then be a factor.
Prairie Mountain Health is short family physicians in a number of communities, such as Brandon, Minnedosa, Virden, Killarney and Swan River.
Gilson said the RHA also works to recruit Manitoba medical school graduates, and there are residency programs in Brandon and Dauphin.
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