Poilievre calls for standardized testing for doctors, nurses

Poilievre calls for standardized testing for doctors, nurses


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling for a national standardized testing process to be created in order to speed up the licensing process for doctors and nurses who are either immigrants or were trained abroad.

Poilievre said in a press conference Sunday that this would help to address the doctor shortage currently affecting our health-care system.

“In Canada today, we have a doctor shortage of about 40,000,” he said, speaking outside the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. “In other words, if we had all the doctors that are here today in Canada, but trained abroad, working in our health-care system, we could reduce our doctor shortage by half.”

He is suggesting a “blue seal” testing standard, which would also allow qualified health-care professionals to work in any province or territory that volunteers to be part of the program.

Under his proposed program, health care professionals would be able to take a standardized test and receive an answer within 60 days, which he says would speed up the licensing process.

Currently, the process to try and get licensed to practice medicine in Canada depends on which province or territory you live in. Some provinces have introduced new methods during the pandemic to streamline the licensing of doctors trained outside of Canada, but many candidates still struggle to obtain the necessary approvals.

“It’ll work like this: there’ll be one, standardized testing system. Within 60 days of an immigrant or a foreign-trained Canadian applying to work in their profession, they will be able to do the exam and get a yes or no based on their competency, not based on where they come from,” Poilievre said.

“This will mean we judge our medical graduates based on their merits and abilities, not based on some bureaucratic system or based on where they come from. It will also mean a national license, so that an Alberta doctor can practice in Nova Scotia if he should fall in love with a lady there and get married and move across the country.”

Six million Canadians don’t have a family doctor, and many have been searching or on waitlists for months or even years.

Poilievre told the story of a young Canadian who went to medical school in Ireland, then went to California to do her residency because she couldn’t get accepted for a residency in Canada, saying it “doesn’t make sense.”

The “blue seal standard” is an idea taken from the regulated trades, he said, where tradespeople such as carpenters, industrial electricians, crane operators and other workers in regulated trades are able to take a single testing standard to receive the qualifications to work anywhere in Canada

“It’s common sense,” Poilievre said. “If you can do the job, you should get the job. If you are a doctor, you shouldn’t be driving a taxi.”

The shortage of doctors and nurses across Canada is only increasing, leaving provinces scrambling for answers.

In January, British Columbia released a new payment plan for doctors in the hopes of addressing doctor shortages.

Last week, CTV News learned that more than a dozen nurses were going to be laid off at the end of the month at an Ontario hospital amid funding cuts. This comes despite Ontario’s Conservative government underspending on health care in recent years — Ontario’s fiscal watchdog reported last year that the province had left $5.5 billion in allocated 2021 funds unspent, including spending nearly $1.3 billion dollars less on health care than planned.

Poilievre’s plan for “blue seal standard” tests comes ahead of the federal government’s next fiscal blueprint, which will be presented to Parliament on March 28.

With files from The Canadian Press. 

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