Many in Toronto ‘s Caribbean community may at some time or other have met “overqualified” immigrant cab drivers or security guards. They are still to be found in Canada’s largest city and in other parts of the country as well.
Some had been highly respected physicians in their native countries but they couldn’t work in their field in Canada -and not because they lacked the qualifications.
Of course, this should come as no surprise.
Many immigrants from places such as the Caribbean, Africa or India still recall their disappointment when they first tried to find work in their specific fields in Canada.
They were often told that they lacked “Canadian experience ” and others were turned away with the news that they were “overqualified.”
Faced with the dilemma of being rejected by employers, these immigrants would ask themselves how would they obtain ” Canadian experience,” if they did not get a job in Canada in the first place.
With respect to being “overqualified”, it was clear that this term was often applied to someone who was willing to work and competent to handle a particular job but was turned down for no good reason.
In the case of international medical graduates who have passed their exams to practice in Canada, it had to take dreaded coronary virus for them to be even considered for employment in the medical field.
There are an estimated 5,000 of them in Canada who have passed all the necessary Canadian exams and have years of experience and have been trying to get licensed. At least as many more have given up on getting a licence and have found other jobs.
To help fight COVID-19, these graduates can now apply for a supervised 30-day licence in Ontario. Yes, 30 days.
This short-term licence, called a Supervised Short Duration Certificate, allows foreign-trained physicians and domestic medical school graduates to practise under supervision at public hospitals, psychiatric facilities and Crown agencies.
We are told that the licences are the product of a provision within Ontario’s Medicine Act that has been in place since the early 1990s. and that the provision exists so that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) can issue these temporary licences in situations like pandemics, when there may be a shortage of physicians.
Of course, the College is making the certificates available at a time of growing strain on the province’s hospitals, as roughly one in 10 known cases of COVID-19 in Ontario are health-care workers and more doctors are needed to deal with the expected surge in cases.
International medical graduates who have passed their exams to practise in Canada, or have graduated from school in the past two years, can now apply for the short term medical licence in Ontario.
According to news reports, so far, few doctors have applied. Many may not even be aware of the Supervised Short Duration Certificate and many others may not be willing to work as a doctor for one month and then return to driving a cab or working as a security guard or as a cook in a fast food restaurant.
With respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Doug Ford has warned that there’s very little separating what Ontario will face from the devastation Italy’s health-care system has seen.
But why does the CPSO wait until there is such a crisis to issue license to more international medical graduates?
Many new immigrants in our own Caribbean community in Toronto have been complaining that they are having difficulty finding a family doctor. And in some rural parts of Canada the situation is worse.
According to HealthForceOntario, there are 13,000 foreign -educated doctors in Ontario who are not working in their field.
What a colossal waste of human resources!
We are calling on the provincial authorities to put an end to this doctor shortage crisis.