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Trade & Transportation, Workforce Development - Provincial Policy
Issue(s): There is a critical shortage of trained physicians to meet the needs of a growing and prosperous Alberta. This shortage will become more acute with the above-average population growth that is expected as people move here from other areas of Canada and abroad seeking employment and economic opportunities. Premier Alison Redford, in her address to the Alberta Chambers of Commerce in March 2013, reported that the government expects about 95,000 new people to move to Alberta this year alone. To ensure Alberta can recruit physicians considering locating in the West, Alberta needs to align its licensing standards with those of B.C. and Saskatchewan (the other two provinces in the New West Partnership) to remove unnecessary barriers to practising medicine in our province.
As of December 2012, 8420 (CPSA January report) physicians were fully registered on the in-province registers in Alberta, up only 375 from 2011 numbers of 8,045.
The Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons typically requires international medical graduates to complete a two-year residency before they can be fully licensed in Alberta. This is above the standard for other provinces in the New West Partnership.
The New West Partnership premise is that professionals and skilled tradespersons certified or licensed in one province will be recognized as qualified in all three provinces, ensuring that skilled and qualified people get into the workforce faster. It also creates greater consistency in recognizing the Canadian credentials and qualifications of internationally trained professionals within the provinces. This, however, does not apply to physicians who are governed by a professional association.
The Agreement on Internal Trade signed by the First Ministers of Canada is intended to eliminate barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility within Canada. Physicians who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents and who have an independent practice licence in a Canadian province or territory may be eligible for a licence in Alberta; however, this may not always be the case, especially with international physicians.
The Canadian Chamber has cited Canada’s patchwork system of internal trade regulations as one of the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness, blocking the free flow of workers, goods and services across the country, hindering growth, innovation, and our ability to compete in the global market.
The Alberta Chamber of Commerce recommends that the Government of Alberta
- Consider including physicians in the list of occupations that could be interprovincially licensed, thus making it easier for physicians to move across the New West Partnership borders.
- Ensure that the licensing requirements for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta are consistent across the provinces that have signed the New West Partnership Agreement, allowing doctors to practise under the Agreement on Internal Trade without impediment.