Physicians and medical learners across Canada overwhelmingly support the implementation of pan-Canadian licensure to reduce barriers to physician mobility and improve access to patient care. In response to a recent Canada-wide poll conducted by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), 95% of respondents indicated that they are very supportive (87%) or somewhat supportive (8%) of pan-Canadian licensure.
“Canadian patients and health care providers are struggling with the greatest health human resources crisis our country has ever seen,” says Dr. Alika Lafontaine, CMA president. “Solutions to solve this crisis must ensure patients receive timely care and providers can work in environments where they are supported to thrive. Physicians recognize that pan-Canadian licensure is one tool to help address regional inequalities in care delivery while supporting cross-border virtual care and enabling physicians to support their colleagues across jurisdictions.”
In their survey responses, physicians and medical learners acknowledged several potential benefits of pan-Canadian licensure, including:
- it will improve access to health care in rural, remote and northern communities (75%), and to primary and specialty care (71%);
- it will enhance use of locums/temporary placements by physicians (87%); and
- it will make Canada a more attractive place for internationally trained medical graduates to locate (73%)
Today, physicians are required to have individual medical licenses in each respective province or territory where they practise. This means that a physician can’t easily travel to another province to help a colleague or provide care for patients in need without obtaining a license in that province or territory; a process that can be complicated, time-consuming, and costly. Physicians indicated in the CMA poll that the complexity (77%), length of the process to obtain a license outside of their home jurisdiction (68%) and the cost (64%) are the primary obstacles they face when considering practising in other jurisdictions.
The Ontario government recently announced its intention to facilitate health worker mobility. This follows recent announcements that the Atlantic provinces intend to improve inter-provincial mobility of health care workers and that the federal government has been working to support the mobilization of internationally educated health professionals.
“These are encouraging steps,” says Dr. Lafontaine. “We urge the provincial and territorial governments, with the support of the federal government, to implement pan-Canadian licensure as one of many solutions to Canada’s health care crisis,” says Dr. Lafontaine. “The CMA is ready and willing to partner with governments and other stakeholders to improve the health system.”
The CMA defines pan-Canadian licensure as: The ability for physicians with full licences to practise independently without restrictions or for medical resident trainees registered in any Canadian jurisdiction to practise or train in any other Canadian jurisdiction without having to acquire more than one license or pay additional licensing fees.
The CMA's pan-Canadian licensure poll was conducted from Nov. 18-30, 2022. The survey was completed by 5,022 CMA members, including 4,117 practising physicians, 521 retired physicians and 384 medical learners. A similar survey conducted in 2019 showed 91% of physicians supported pan-Canadian licensure at that time.