Time To Look at Professional Licensing Requirements for Immigrants

By James Metcalfe | November 2, 2011

by James Metcalfe – Pace Immigration: The Toronto Star recently carried an article about Balvinder Singh Ahuja. He is a Canadian permanent resident and a qualified doctor – in India.

Mr. Ahuja came to Canada and is now learning how to drive a truck.

The main thrust of the story is that although he is not recognized as a doctor in Canada, Mr. Ahuja had assisted in the birth of a child on an airplane flying from India to Canada. Obviously, then, the man is a qualified doctor. Why is he not practicing medicine in Canada?

At present, medical doctors and medical specialists are one of the group of 29 occupations which are eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada. Therefore, a total of 500 medical doctors will be allowed to immigrate to Canada. But immigrate to what?

As the case of Mr. Ahuja shows, doctors who enter the country as doctors are not always allowed to practice their profession. This situation is not unique to doctors, but to any professionals who require a license.

The simple answer is not to find more resident positions for doctors, but to choose doctors who can qualify easily under the Canadian licensing system. While the government purports to match critical skill shortages through the use of the Federal skilled worker program, this is not always the case. Prior to 2002, when new immigration criteria were introduced, professionals had to meet licensing requirements prior to being granted status in Canada.

For the sake of the health care system, and immigrants who wish to practice their life’s work, I think it’s high time the immigration department reexamined how we choose skilled workers for Canada, and the licensing requirements for skilled immigrants.