Is it just a fancy announcement?
Is it just a fancy announcement?
MPP Doly Begum on Budget 2022’s Foreign Credentials Recognition Plan
By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
The Philippine Reporter
An April 27, 2022 report by The Canadian Press says that the number of seniors over 85 is expected to triple in the next 25 years while birthrates have been falling since 2016. This raises the question of who will care for the aging boomers and the millennials when they become seniors?
Budget 2022, if passed, will invest $115 million over five years with $30 million ongoing to help up to 11,000 internationally trained healthcare workers per year get their credentials recognized to join the labor force. But will that be enough?
Doly Begum, NDP Member of Parliament for Scarborough Southwest and Official Opposition Critic for Citizenship, Foreign Credentials, and Immigration Services, is seeking re-election on June 2, 2022. She shares her thoughts in this interview.
The Philippine Reporter: Considering our aging population, what are your comments on Budget 2022’s plans for the healthcare sector?
Doly Begum: We brought forward Bill 98, which was before that announcement. We brought this issue forward in Parliament to recognize internationally trained workers and their skills and education in Parliament several times over the past four years. During the pandemic, this became very apparent how urgent the issue was. The federal funding commitment is a great first step. It is what we need in terms of investment, but we have to make sure that these commitments are made with the direct input of those who are impacted by these barriers.
TPR: The situation has somewhat eased up for nurses with the supervised practice program. But what about doctors and other professionals? Knowing that the regulatory bodies are the biggest hurdles here because they’re self-governing, what can be done about this?
DB: These barriers are faced on a provincial level. And we know this. When we worked with a lot of the healthcare workers or when we worked with engineers, for example, we consulted with a lot of different organizations that are like the ITPO, the Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario. All of them talked about the need for making sure that we have appropriate commitments from the federal authority, from the provincial government on this issue as well. This means that at the provincial level, we have to work with the regulatory bodies, we have to work with the colleges, and we have to make sure that we work with the appropriate organizations that are advocating for these workers in easing up these barriers.
And I will add that when we have these commitments, we have to look at other models that work. So, other provinces have come up with different models that have worked. In Ontario, that has not happened. In other countries, for example, they have come up with models that work too
TPR: What do you think it is they’re doing right that we should apply in our system here?
DB: One of the things that we have seen other countries do is allow for a better process whether it’s a recognition process that allows for a bridging program or allows for practice ready assessment. Sometimes we don’t have enough space for them to get residency, or we don’t have a process that is affordable for them. So those are some of the things I think other jurisdictions have done better to support than here. So, we should work with the colleges and regulatory bodies to say, well, how much funding do you need to come up with a program that allows for them to have better access to the field and allow them to get a job in their field, and to make sure that we do it according to the best standards possible?
TPR: How much power should these regulatory bodies really have now? Over the years, there would be announcements, but the government would just tinker here and there without a complete overhaul of the situation. What can be done about it?
DB: I think the issue falls under how invested we have had the provincial government in solving the problems that people were facing. When I contacted a lot of the colleges and regulatory bodies, we had so much support from many of them coming forward and really looking at the bill that we proposed and helping us draft it with ideas for solving it and we brought together all of this feedback, along with the feedback from the internationally trained healthcare workers, internationally trained workers from other fields as well, to draft our bill.
So I think that the responsibility and the commitment lies with the government, making sure that if we pass this bill, where we bring everyone together to solve the problem, then that is a real commitment by the government to say, here is what we need to do, and here’s who’s going to sit in this commission together to fix it, as well as understanding exactly what needs to be done. The other thing I would say is we haven’t seen the government actually spend a lot of money or pass regulations or bills that would have helped the situation as much either in the past. So now, if we have $115 million, are we going to make sure that we invest it in the right way? Or is it just another kind of, like you said, trickle that is dropped, so that it’s a fancy announcement and that’s it?
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