NS aims to streamline the licensing process for nurses and doctors trained outside of Canada


Health Minister Michelle Thompson said the only way Nova Scotia can address health care worker shortages is through immigration, and because of this, the government wants to streamline the process for granting licenses for people moving to the province from outside Canada.

“We know we can never increase the workforce we need right now – we have a big gap,” the minister told reporters after a funding announcement in Halifax on Tuesday.

Thompson’s comments come as The Ontario government has ordered regulators to find faster ways to authorize nurses and doctors trained outside of Canada.

There have been recurring complaints from healthcare professionals moving to Nova Scotia about the cumbersome process obtain a license to work in positions similar to those they held in other countries. Thompson said patient safety remains a priority and his government is working collaboratively on the issue with colleges of nurses, doctors and surgeons.

“These systems are bureaucratic and they’re clogged, but we’re looking at ways to maintain the credentials and use the education that people have in the system in a meaningful way. If not immediately, … [after] we can stagger them to this place.”

“We are committed to it”

As an example, the minister said someone who worked as a nurse in another country could start working here as a continuing care assistant and then progress to being recognized as a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse .

The government is also exploring opportunities to share licenses with other provinces, including across Atlantic Canada, Thompson said.

“We tried to be really proactive and quick,” she said.

“I don’t foresee it being a job that will take us five or six years. We’re getting into it, to figure out how to get things done.”

The family medicine waiting list continues to grow

Meanwhile, new data released on Tuesday shows the number of people waiting for a family practice has increased by 6% in July, to reach 100,592.

The greatest increase in demand is in the central zone which jumped 10.5%, followed by the eastern zone at 7.2%. The western zone increased by 3.6%, while the northern zone increased by 1.3%.

The number of people on the register has increased significantly since April. Thompson said she thinks people will start to see progress “in the next few months” after nearly a year of what she called “fundamental work” to understand the primary care system.

“I would also like it to be fast,” she said. “But I’m hopeful that we have the right vision in place now so that we can go further and start making meaningful changes.”



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