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Canadian provinces want to cut tests to meet doctor shortage

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7210.594a (Published 04 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:594
  1. David Spurgeon
  1. Quebec

    A serious shortage of doctors is causing some Canadian provinces to try to persuade their medical licensing authorities to waive traditional competency tests. Their action was criticised by the new president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr Hugh Scully, as “a short- sighted way” of looking at the problem.

    Delegates at the association's annual meeting agreed and adopted a resolution calling for “international medical graduates” to undergo the same competency evaluation standards as those used for Canadian graduates.

    Other resolutions called for increased training capacities for both undergraduate and graduate medical education and adoption of the principle of “national self sufficiency in the production and retention of physicians.” Delegates called for the provincial governments to supply funds for increasing the number of doctors.

    Dr Scully did not identify the provinces that are said to be urging dilution of standards, but he referred to two provinces, unnamed, in the west of the country. He said that provincial medical associations had intervened to prevent this happening.

    He said that the shortage of doctors could be accurately described as a crisis: there is currently a shortfall nationally of 180 anaesthetists, which has caused operations across the country to be cancelled.

    Other shortages exist in cardiac care; paediatrics; obstetrics; and ear, nose, and throat specialties. Shortages exist in both urban and rural centres.

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