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Premier says new plan will speed up process for health-care workers moving to Ontario


Premier Doug Ford says Ontario will adopt new “as of right” rule that allow health-care workers registered in other provinces to start working here right away.

Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones made the announcement in Windsor Thursday. They also announced $30 million for Windsor Regional Hospital to expand its cardiac and cancer care services.

Ford said the government introduce “status quo”-breaking legislation allowing health-care workers from outside of the province to work in Ontario without “bureaucratic delays.”

“In February, our government will introduce new legislation that will allow nurses to apply immediately,” he said. “We are the first to implement them.”

Ford said the proposed legislation will increase the number of health-care workers in Ontario’s health care system.

The proposed legislation would only apply to health-care practitioners in Canada, said Jones, and will not be open to health-care workers from the United States.

But Dr. Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, said the premier might be “putting the cart before the horse.”

“The move to enable any nurse that registered in one jurisdiction in Canada to work in another is absolutely the right move for any jurisdiction, not only for Ontarians, but for Ontario,” she said. “So to have Ontario play a leadership role on that is fantastic.”

“Unless we enable competitive compensation here in Ontario, nurses will not come here and in particular the RNs will not come here.”

For its part, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) said it has always support national licensure.

It said the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) has allowed physicians licensed in other provinces to get a licence to practise in Ontario without additional requirements.

The CPSO also said it took steps to cut down on barriers for Canadian doctors who want to temporarily practise in Ontario by creating a temporary licence.

“Both the CFTA and the temporary independent practice class licences are expedited and issued within five days of a completed application,” the CPSO said in an email.

“We look forward to working with government to better understand the details underlying the “as of right” rules.

According to the College of Nurses of Ontario, more than 10,000 nurses currently have active applications with the College of Nurses of Ontario to practise here but only 195 are nurses from other provinces. More than 6,000 are international applicants, more than 4,000 are from Ontario.

Of the more than 12,000 new nurses registered in Ontario last year, only 646 did their nursing education in other provinces (5,000+ were internationally educated, 6,000+ were educated in Ontario).

$30 million for cardiac and cancer upgrades

Meanwhile, Ford and Jones announced money to improve treatments for patients with cancer and cardiovascular diseases by renovating the Windsor hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab. This will allow patients to have angiograms, angioplasties and other cardiac tests and surgeries in Windsor.

Currently patients who require these procedures and tests have to travel to London, or cross the border into Detroit for urgent care.

Mayor Drew Dilkens said, “For patients who have to go to Detroit for treatment, that will no longer be the case.”

With the money, Windsor Regional Hospital will expand its cancer centre and add a new linear accelerator, a piece of medical equipment used for radiation therapy treatment.

The money is part of what Ford says is a plan to invest $1 billion in 50 hospitals across the province over the next ten years.

‘The real crisis is a staffing crisis’

Incoming Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles held a press conference outside of Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette campus.

“We all know that there is a crisis in health care in Ontario,” she said. “We know that Doug Ford helped to fuel that crisis and he’s created this opportunity now where they are opening the door for privatization.”

She said while funds for new equipment and renovations at Windsor General Hospital are important, they do not address the need for health-care workers in Ontario.

MPP for Don Valley East and Ontario Liberal Health critic Dr. Adil Shamji told CBC News in an email Ford’s announcement “assumes there is a surplus of licensed healthcare workers across Canada that are available to work in Ontario.”

He said the legislation fails to recognize Ford’s “wage-capping Bill 124 has made our province one of the least desirable places to work in Canada as a healthcare professional.”

Shamji said the proposal doesn’t provide details about which regulatory body will verify whether workers are safe to practice, supervise their clinical care or assess what standards the new health-care workers will be held to when they come to Ontario.

Stiles told CBC News shortly after the announcement that hospital staffing levels are in crisis.

“Unless you’re actually investing in a way to actually bring and support and keep our health-care workers in our hospitals, in our public healthcare system, there is going to be nobody to treat patients.”

Source : CBC