Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and city councillors are urging the province to let foreign-trained doctors work in hospitals to help fight against the novel coronavirus.
Ontario alone has 7,000 foreign-trained doctors, according to a release from the City of Brampton, but they face a variety of barriers in getting certified to work in hospitals.
Brown said Brampton likely has more internationally-trained doctors than anywhere else in Canada and he said they are ready, willing and able to treat patients.
He added one of the doctors he had been speaking with couldn’t be at the press conference because he currently works at a packaging plant.
Coun. Charmaine Williams, who has been spearheading this effort for the city, said at the press conference, “We need these doctors on the front-lines, not the sidelines.”
Some of the barriers these doctors are facing include the high cost of certification and testing, a lack of resident internships and the infrequency of testing, according to the Williams.
“Our request of the province today … is to make sure people who are ready and willing to help, let’s use their talent,” Brown said. “The notion that we wouldn’t want that extra help in this battle is short-sighted.”
Williams has started a petition on the website MoreDoctorsNow to encourage the province to “take down the barriers to doctors who want to serve their communities.”
The association that represents the regional physicians’ regulatory bodies has said that for now, calling international medical graduates to action isn’t on the table.
“The focus has been on licensing recently retired physicians and/or senior medical residents, and that appears to be sufficient for any surge capacity that might exist at the moment,” said Fleur-Ange Lefebvre, executive director and CEO of the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, however, is moving in a different direction.
On April 1, it announced it was looking to amend its bylaws to allow internationally trained doctors to work “under the direction and supervision of attending physicians” so long as they have at least two years of post-graduate training and the first part of the qualifying exams.
A spokeswoman for the college said the amendment had been in the works since last year, but the minister of health fast-tracked it due to the pandemic. It’s now in a mandatory 15-day review period.
Health Canada didn’t comment about having foreign-trained doctors certified, saying the issue is determined on a regional level.
Brown also said they have also laid an additional eight fines related to their physical-distancing bylaws.
The city has enacted bylaws to enforce physical distancing that carry a fine of between $500 to $100,000.
Some of those fines include someone who decided to celebrate a birthday with a street party, a tattoo and hair salon that remained open despite a warning from the city and individuals who were playing soccer in Heart Lake field.
Brown said, “The city of Brampton has no tolerance for people who are ignoring the advice of public health.
Brampton currently has 241 cases of COVID-19.