CONSERVATIVE Leader Pierre Poilievre on Sunday announced plans to create a “Blue Seal” National Professional Testing Standard to quickly license professionals, like doctors and nurses, who prove they are qualified.
He said the goal is to make sure that anyone who has passed the common national test for their profession would get a “Blue Seal” certificate allowing them to work in any province or territory that chooses to join the Blue Seal Standard. The Blue Seal for professions is based on the Red Seal standard that has existed in most regulated trades for over 50 years.
Poilievre added that all the provinces and territories have chosen to join the Red Seal because it gets them more skilled workers. They would have the same incentive to join the Blue Seal for the professions: more doctors, nurses and other high paid professionals who will fill gaps in the economy and pay a lot of provincial tax.
According to the Conservative Leader, after eight years of the Justin Trudeau government, the health care system is worse than ever. Only 41% of doctors with foreign credentials work as doctors and only 37% of nurses with foreign credentials work as nurses. Gatekeepers shut out the rest. That means there are 34,105 foreign trained nurses and 18,900 foreign-trained doctors in our country who are not working in their chosen profession. That’s 53,005 nurses and doctors who could be filling shortages and providing desperately needed care for Canadians.
This is because Canada has 13 different bureaucratic processes to get licensed to become a doctor, nurse or other professional. Doctors need to be judged based on whether they meet Canada’s competency standards, not based on where they come from. Even those born in Canada but who study abroad in advanced countries cannot return and easily get licensed. And even those who are licensed in one province often can’t easily work in another because of conflicting standards. The consequences of this gatekeeping are, quite literally, deadly, Poilievre said.
Over six million Canadians don’t have access to a family doctor. Of the lucky few that do, 41 percent say they cannot get an appointment right away. Emergency rooms are being forced to close, and Canadians are unable to get the care they need because of severe nursing shortages, he added.
The solution according to Poilievre:
- Establish a “Blue Seal” national testing standard to get a license in regulated trades, starting with doctors and nurses but continuing until all regulated professions are covered. Provinces and territories would have the freedom to join or keep their own systems.
- To establish this Blue Seal, Poilievre will work with provinces and the healthcare sector to establish a national competency body that will set standards just like the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) does for the Red Seal certificate that exists for many skilled trades.
- Sign a deal with provinces and territories that will create a 60-day standard so foreign-trained health professionals applying for Blue Seal certification get a chance to take the test and get an answer within 60 days.
- Licensing will be based on tested ability, not bureaucratic processes. Instead of judging immigrant doctors by where they studied, the Blue Seal Exam would judge them by what they can do.
- Faster evaluation of qualifications of those educated abroad.
- Mobility across provinces.
Poilievre said: “Justin Trudeau has failed to solve Canada’s major shortage of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, and under this Liberal government, these problems are only going to get worse. On our current path, Canada will be short nearly 44,000 physicians, including over 30,000 family doctors and general practitioners, before the end of the decade. Canada ranks 26th worldwide in the number of patients per doctor, at 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people. And while our healthcare system buckles under the pressures of these shortages, Justin Trudeau has done nothing to take on the gatekeepers that are keeping tens of thousands of healthcare professionals from working in our country and providing Canadians with the care they deserve.
“Gatekeepers at the provincial level and in licensing bodies have created endless barriers and red tape that prevents health care professionals from doing the work they’ve been trained to do. Hundreds of Canadians who went to medical school internationally at some of the world’s best universities are being turned away. Practicing Canadian doctors wishing to be accredited in another province can face a lengthy application process, sometimes months long, and thousands of dollars in fees.
“I will put an end to this bureaucratic madness and bring home our doctors and nurses to help fix our broken healthcare system. My plan will ensure foreign-trained healthcare workers can easily work in Canada and make it easy for healthcare workers to take their skills wherever they are needed across the country.
“The Blue Seal will mean that it won’t matter where someone comes from, it matters what they can do. If they meet our national Blue Seal standards, they will be able to work in our healthcare system. It’s time to remove the gatekeepers, fix our broken healthcare system and bring home doctors and nurses.”