The Ontario government recently announced some changes in regards to nurse and physician licensing to address acute healthcare staffing shortages.
As per the announcement, internationally educated nurses can register in a temporary class and begin working while they work towards full registration. To make it easier for non-practicing or retired nurses to return to the field, there will be some flexibility to the requirement that they need to have practiced nursing within a certain period of time before applying for reinstatement. Just as with foreign-trained nurses, a new temporary independent practice registration class will be introduced for physicians from other provinces and territories, making it easier for them to work for up to 90 days in Ontario.
“These changes will bring more health care workers into our health system faster, helping to care for people when they need it,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
The province says these changes were proposed by the provincial Ministry of Health, College of Nurses and College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Further changes will come into effect in the new year. This includes requiring health regulatory colleges to comply with time limits to make registration decisions and prohibiting health regulatory colleges from requiring Canadian work experience for the purpose of registration, with some exceptions such as when equivalent international experience is accepted. Additionally, language tests approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) will be accepted to reduce duplicate language proficiency testing for Canadian immigrants.
Finally, on August 31, 2023, health regulatory colleges will be required to have a new category of registration that can be used to facilitate quicker registration to help safeguard the health workforce supply in the event of future emergencies.
The province is also working with the College of Nurses and Ontario Health to expand funding for the supervised practice experience partnership program which has already supported over 800 international nurses in getting licensed since January. The province anticipates that by March 31, 2023 another 200 international nurses will gain the practice and language requirements necessary to work here.
As previously announced, Ontario is temporarily covering the cost of nursing exams, application, and registration fees, saving them up to $1,500.