Why isn’t there a single medical licence for all doctors in Canada? André Picard
2019-01-07 from theglobeandmail.com
Monika Dutt has worked as a doctor in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Ontario.
Although she has been practising medicine since 2005, a combination of family medicine and public health, each move has required Dr. Dutt to go through the “frustrating and expensive” process of getting a new medical licence.
That’s because, while there is a standard set of requirements physicians need to meet to apply for a full licence to practise medicine in Canada, all 13 provinces and territories have separate licensing requirements and fees.
“The Ontario application required 42 documents, right back to my medical-school transcripts,” said Dr. Dutt, who is now the CEO of the Timiskaming Health Unit in northeastern Ontario. There were also thousands of dollars in fees.
For example, the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons has an annual fee of $1,950, plus an additional $975 if the fee is paid after July 1. A temporary licence costs an additional $850. There are also fees to review qualifications, $550, and a documentation fee of $450. A copy of a diploma costs $75 and a letter confirming a physician is a member is $40. Physicians who do locums (temporary postings) pay $250 more a month. Other provinces have similar fees. Universities and hospitals also charge fees for documentation.
“It really adds up,” Dr. Dutt said.
She said she understands why rigorous licensing is necessary – “to weed out the small number of physicians who have done awful things” – but it is not clear why the provinces and territories don’t recognize each other’s licences.
Dr. Dutt is not alone in asking that question. A growing chorus of medical groups – including the Canadian Medical Association, Resident Doctors of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Medical Students – are pushing for some form of national licensing.
After all, training is similar in Canada’s 17 medical schools and in residency programs across the country, and patients are not appreciably different.
The physician groups pushing for change argue requiring separate licences in every jurisdiction makes it difficult, and sometimes impossible, for physicians, particularly in rural and remote parts of the country, to find doctors to fill in for them while they’re on holidays or when they wish to reduce their hours as they grow older.
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