Premier Doug Ford says his government will introduce legislation in February that would immediately allow doctors, nurses and other accredited health-care professionals from the rest of Canada to work in Ontario, helping to ease a staffing crunch.
“They can get to work as soon as they get here,” Ford said Thursday during an announcement at Windsor Regional Hospital.
“We’re waiting with open arms and jobs to fill.”
Health-care workers coming to Ontario would not have to first register with regulatory colleges for their professions such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons or the College of Nurses, which handle disciplinary matters in the event questionable or improper care is provided.
A statement from the government did not say how quickly health-care workers would have to register, raising questions about how any problems would be handled.
Health-care workers from other provinces would be eligible “if they have provided safe, competent and ethical health care in their home province or territory,” a statement said. It did not detail how this would be confirmed.
Ford also said legislation to be tabled next month, if passed, would allow hospitals and other health organizations to temporarily increase staffing when they are short-staffed or facing high numbers of patients.
The legislation would clear the way for nurses, respiratory therapists, paramedics and other health-care professionals “to work outside their regular responsibilities or settings as long as they have the knowledge, skill and judgment to do so,” the government said in a statement.
“This will provide hospitals and other settings with more flexibility to ensure health-care professionals are filling the most in-demand roles at the right time.”
No further details were provided on how far the scope of care for health workers could be expanded, and in what scenarios.
The government said its plan to quickly allow health-care professionals from other provinces and territories to work here will break down barriers to labour mobility and is a “first step” toward a “portable registration model” in the country.
Ford has been under fire from nurses for Bill 124, which was passed in 2019 and capped wage increases for most public sector workers at one per cent annually. It has been blamed for nurses leaving hospitals and the heavy work loads they faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
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