The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to see momentum building across Canada in support of greater physician mobility.
On May 1, the Atlantic Physician Register went into effect, enabling mobility of physicians among the four Atlantic provinces, thanks to the efforts of their respective registrars and the leadership of the provincial medical associations. Ontario recently announced plans to recognize the credentials of health professionals already licensed elsewhere in Canada, and sectors outside of health care are now acknowledging pan-Canadian licensure as a concrete solution to address physician shortages across the country.
“We are pleased to see support growing within and beyond the health ecosystem for physician mobility. It is a critical solution that can help improve access to care for Canadians,” says CMA president Dr. Alika Lafontaine. “This gives us hope that real solutions are being acted on to transform health care, and we encourage governments to work together to achieve a truly pan-Canadian approach to physician mobility.”
Far too many Canadians struggle to access care in a timely fashion. Statistics Canada reported in 2021 that 4.7 million Canadians lack a family doctor while other estimates have put that figure as high as 6 million. These challenges are exacerbated in rural and remote communities: while about 18% of Canadians live in rural areas, they are served by only 8% of the country’s physicians.
In Canada, medical practice has historically been restricted to the province or territory in which a physician is licensed. With few exceptions, practising in a different province or territory means a lengthy application process, sometimes months long, and thousands of dollars in fees. The CMA is advocating for pan-Canadian licensure to enable mobility of the physician workforce and improve access to care for patients. A recent Canada-wide poll conducted by the CMA showed that 95% of physicians and medical learners support pan-Canadian licensure.
The CMA urges all the federal, provincial and territorial governments to build on recent momentum to support the physician workforce and improve access to care for Canadians.