Government of Canada announces supports to improve well-being of health workers and help internationally educated health professionals enter the workforce more quickly

OTTAWA, ON, Dec. 6, 2023 /CNW/ – Canada continues to face significant challenges related to our health workforce. High levels of burnout, high patient loads, resource scarcity and stress faced by dedicated health workers are common across the country.

The federal government, along with the provinces and territories, recently committed to take concrete actions to address health workforce challenges, like collaborating on retention issues, undertaking a study of the education and training supply and demand for key health professions, reducing the time it takes for internationally educated health professionals to join the health workforce, and increasing the sharing and standardization of health workforce data.

Building on those commitments, today, the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced $3.5 million over 5 years to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) to develop a National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being to help improve health workforce retention. This plan will bring together a diverse group of partners to identify, develop and prioritize solutions to improve the well-being of Canada’s health workers as well as provide a roadmap to develop a health care system in which care is delivered with joy, compassion and meaning.

There have been significant advancements to increase the number of health professionals immigrating to Canada. However, there are still challenges with respect to ensuring these professionals can put their skills and experience to work once they are here.

To further support internationally educated health professionals, Minister Holland also announced the following initiatives:

  • $1.49 million to the RCPSC to expand and expedite the specialist Practice Eligibility Route (PER) for International Medical Graduates. This project would allow candidates to apply to various medical regulatory authorities (MRAs) for the opportunity to obtain a provisional licence and be able to provide care in that jurisdiction’s health care system while proceeding with the practice assessment phase of the PER. It is also expected to reduce the intake and processing times for international medical graduates who applied through the PER, from 6 to 24 months down to 3 to 4 months; and
  • $500,000 to the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) to advance the Expansion of Practice Ready Assessments and the Development of an Alternative Pathways for International Medical Graduates, aiming to better understand the barriers to existing programs as well as the requirements and capacity at a national level to assist with integrating international medical graduates into the Canadian health workforce.

The Government of Canada will continue working with these organizations as well as other partners and provinces and territories to improve retention, increase recruitment, and advance efforts so that health workers and internationally educated health professionals can work across Canada more quickly.

Quotes

“Addressing the needs of healthcare workers and the challenges they face is paramount in delivering better health outcomes for Canadians. These investments will help improve the well-being of dedicated health workers across Canada and ensure more internationally educated health professionals can put their skills and experience to work, benefitting Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

“Health professionals are the backbone of our health care system, but are facing many challenges affecting their own mental health. These investments will help support the well-being of health workers and also improve workforce planning by helping to implement solutions that ensure internationally educated health professionals can begin working where they’re needed most in Canada.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks 
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“The shortage of doctors, nurses and other health professionals is impacting access to health care for Canadians. The federal government’s investments in The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the Medical Council of Canada are a step forward on helping internationally trained health professionals put their skills to work in Canada more quickly. This will help further support the health professionals that Canadians rely on.”

Yasir Naqvi
Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre

“The Royal College is delighted to work with the Government of Canada and other partner organizations to contribute to system changes that alleviate the resource and wellness challenges that impact health care workers and their ability to provide care. We are grateful for this opportunity as we work towards restoring joy in the care of patients and communities.”

Dr. Ian Bowmer, Interim CEO
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Canada is home to many internationally trained physicians (ITPs), some of whom are unable to find roles in our current health care structure. Thanks to funding from the Government of Canada, the Medical Council of Canada looks forward to supporting new, timely and practical opportunities to help ITPs contribute their skills to patient care in Canada.”

Dr. Maureen Topps, Executive Director & CEO
Medical Council of Canada

Quick Facts
  • The investments announced today are part of the Government of Canada’s larger and ongoing efforts to support the health workforce, which has included:
    • Through Budget 2023, the Government of Canada’s outlined its plan to invest close to $200 billion over 10 years to improve health care for Canadians, which includes a focus on efforts to support a robust health workforce, including support for health professionals.
    • The first-ever launch of category based selection for Canada’s flagship economic immigration management system, Express Entry. Category-based selection allows Canada to issue invitations to apply to prospective permanent residents with specific work experience, including in health care.
    • Announced an investment of $78.5 million in three projects that will help to train and retain more health workers, under the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program through Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC).
    • Hosted the Nursing Retention Forum lead by Canada’s Chief Nursing Officer, with key members of the nursing community, to co-develop a toolkit with evidence-informed practical strategies, such as mental health and wellness supports that employers and health authorities can implement to support nursing retention within their organizations.
    • Announced $2.4 million to the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) to support the implementation and evaluation of a National Nurse Residency Program which aims to support newly graduated registered nurses (RNs) by helping them effectively manage the transition from classroom to workplace through competency-based workshops and mentorship.
Associated Links

Backgrounder 
Federal, provincial and territorial statement on supporting Canada’s health workforce 
Budget 2023: Investing in Public Health Care and Affordable Dental care 
Improving health care 
Health Workforce

SOURCE Health Canada (HC)