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Internationally educated health professionals (IEHPs) are an important part of Canada’s health workforce. Immigrants make up about a quarter of the health and social assistance sector. There are many thousands more who have the education, experience, and skills, yet are unemployed or underemployed. WES is working closely with IEHPs and health ecosystem partners to develop policy and push for systemic change that will enable fair access and allow IEHPs to pursue their careers as health professionals in Canada.
The issue of underutilization of the skills and education of IEHPs is a well-documented and long-standing problem in Canada. IEHPs continue to face systemic barriers impeding their ability to become licensed to practice.
WES is working with organizations across the country to call for a strategy aimed at ending the persistent underutilization of IEHP talent. To develop and implement effective systemic strategies, all stakeholders will need to be at the table. Coherent, system-wide plans that can be applied at both the pan-Canadian and provincial-territorial level can help to ensure a more equitable and effective labour force integration of IEHPs.
Thousands of internationally educated nurses (IENs) are effectively prevented from professional registration at a time when Canada’s health care system faces critical staffing shortages exacerbated by the pandemic. WES is working alongside key stakeholders in Ontario to propose initiatives that better enable IENs to advance in their careers. We are advocating system-wide change, including scaling up career laddering and bridging programs, financial supports for IENs, career guidance navigation hubs, and better, disaggregated data collection. Some of these proposals are reflected in new program initiatives announced in Ontario in 2021.
Internationally trained physicians (ITPs) face significant barriers to returning to their profession in Canada. The skills and experience of ITPs are vastly underutilized at a time when the needs of our health care system are growing. Since the fall of 2020, WES has been supporting the Internationally Trained Physicians Access Coalition (ITPAC). ITPAC is led by groups of ITPs and allied service delivery agencies in Ontario which are working collaboratively to enable fair access to both licensure and commensurate employment in alternative health care careers. The coalition is committed to advancing practical policy solutions, including bringing the Practice-Ready Assessment (PRA) model to Ontario.
WES continues to write and speak about the evolving public policy discussion on the underutilization of IEHPs. Below are a few select pieces.
A base of research and reports supports evidence-based advocacy and decision-making. With the country’s attention on the health care system, the media have also spotlighted IEHPs’ challenges in putting their education and experience to use in Canada.In the News Select Publications and Research
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