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Doctors without borders

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on May 12, 2021 with No Comments

The Ontario government’s dictate to hospitals to perform only emergency and life-saving surgeries has deprived people getting certain types of treatments because they say their surgeries are considered “elective”. On the other side of Canada,  up to 30% of surgeries are delayed in Calgary, Edmonton, northern Alberta as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise.  Alberta Health Services (AHS) last week said and for the next two weeks, up to 30 per cent of surgeries in the Calgary, Edmonton and North zones would be postponed, as well as some non-urgent procedures and ambulatory appointments. The patients would have to rebook as soon as soon as possible, AHS said, and only those affected will be contacted. There are numerous such instances where critical surgeries have been put on hold as part of an informed decision and thus making  affected patients uncertain about the next possible date.

The third wave of Covid has stretched the health system in Canada that even the doctors from Ontario have supported the government’s decision to halt non-emergency surgeries as an “unfortunate  but necessary  step” to reduce the load on the hospitals due to Covid 19.  At the same time, Mackenzie Health’s chief of staff has asked York Region  physicians to move from their “traditional” roles and provide assistance at intensive care units — which are slammed with patients who have Covid 19.  Hospitals around Canada have infrastructure to match the challenging needs. However, can the same be said for the doctors and associated medical staff? No!

When the provinces are struck with a high number of cases, there are others who have managed to contain Covid and there has been a demand to ask for help concerning human resources.  Though it may appear to  be  simple allocation of human resources to another province for a short  period of time, it may not be that easier.  Each province and the territory has its own medical regulatory bodies that license physicians. Doctors and nurses irrespective of from where they have acquired their degrees are similarly trained, but in order to practice in a province it takes piles of paperwork, reference letters , professional testimonials; and a hell lot of time and money. Though the requirements are same, someone having a certification for one province can’t practice in another province.

On the other hand, Canada’s commonwealth partners have made if far easier for the doctors and nurses. The United Kingdom licenses its physicians to work across four countries, and Australia made the transition to national license in year 2011.  Cases of Covid 19 has exposed the chinks in the medical system and the restriction on provincial license being one of them.  Ontario has asked other provinces to share 620 health professionals to meet a rising number of cases, without changing the process of licensure it can’t be done quickly.

Prior to the pandemic a large number of physicians desired that the system could be changed for a nationwide license. Giving them a flexibility to move to other province. Now with Covid 19 striking hard, creating a system for a national license is the need of the hour. Doctors and nurses with borders within Canada has to considered. It’s not only to address their need to move to urban centres where they like to practice but also to identify hospitals, clinics, and populations in need of help, and reduce barriers to providing it.


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