Nova Scotia announces new immigration stream for doctors

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Nova Scotia has rolled out a plan to bring in foreign doctors however only applies to doctors who can already work here, not other foreign-trained physicians.

Nova Scotia currently accepts physicians from 29 jurisdictions, including the UK and the US, India unfortunately is not on that list.

The new stream means the immigration aspect of recruitment can be processed within five to ten days. It eliminates duplication of the bureaucratic process.

British Columbia has a similar system in place.

The announcement doesn’t mean doctors can be recruited in a matter of weeks. In order to qualify, the physicians have to have a job offer in place and go through the licensing process with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia.

Dr. Lynne Harrigan, vice-president of medicine with the health authority, says this new speed of immigration is astonishing.

The health authority is reportedly aiming to recruit 12 international doctors a year. International recruitment numbers haven’t been monitored in the past, so she said she can’t compare that to previous work.

Meanwhile the need for the province is great and it is estimated that in to meet the shortage, the health authority needs to hire 110 physicians a year to at least keep the status quo, which is 10 more than the goal the health authority announced in December.

There are currently 75 vacancies for family doctors in the province.

One of the contentious issues for doctors is salaries. Nova Scotia physicians are paid the lowest in the country. On average, New Brunswick family doctors earn 13 per cent more, while family doctors on Prince Edward Island make 17 per cent more.

There is also a danger and a real possibility of doctors using the fast track immigration system to get to Canada, and then leave for other provinces which is often the case when it comes to foreign students and new immigrants.

The province said one doctor so far has been processed through the new system.

The need for better integration into the mainstream is a challenge and because it doesn’t always happen, immigrants in small towns end up fleeing to places like Toronto where they quickly join the large and flourishing ethnic diaspora. The problem is how does an ethnic diaspora take root if a large number of new immigrants plot their exit strategy?

If the province is really interested in fixing its doctor shortage it needs to find a way to get foreign-trained physicians ready to work, those are the ones who will stay in the province because they won’t be able to practice elsewhere. – CINEWS

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