Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Marc Dalton is calling for changes to the processes of certifying internationally-trained doctors.
He said more needs to be done to make it more feasible for out-of-country doctors as the current process is long, expensive, and in many cases trained doctors have to re-do medical training.
“I would say it’s quite disturbing,“ Dalton told Global News. “We have such a wait list… We have such a need for doctors and nurses. If you are trained, you should be recognized for the competencies. This hurts Canadians. We have such a need for family doctors and there are such long wait times for surgeries.”
The MP continued, “I have met Bill… it is such a shame. If there is a will there should be a way. We don’t have the medical care that we should and would have if we had more of these doctors and nurses in the field.”
Bill Jakobs, a Ukraine man and Ukrainian-trained doctor who Dalton referenced, echoes those thoughts as he has had to move away from the medical field to provide for his family in B.C.
Jakobs says he is a trained and tested abdominal surgeon, who has more than 600 surgeries under his belt from his time in his home country.
“I thought it was my calling because it is very difficult studies and seeing people suffering (I want to help),“ Jakobs told Global News.
He said to get certified as a doctor in Canada, he would have to go back to school for six to eight years.
“My first thought when I came to Canada was to work as a doctor, but I realized during the immigration, I would not be able to make an income while going back to studies,” he said.
Jakobs recently immigrated from Ukraine with his family, including a 16-year-old son.
He is now working as a small business consultant but said he would return to his medical background if the process didn’t affect his family’s income so much.
He was acknowledged during the immigration process as a doctor in medicine, but now says he would have to start from scratch.
“I wanted to go back to (medicine) and I tried to do that. But I realized I would not be able to (make an) income (while studying).”
Jakobs said he has talked to other foreign-trained doctors that are living in B.C. and many of them are working in construction. He said it all comes down to being able to provide for their families.
Back in March, the B.C. government announced millions in funding for the province’s only medical school.
In a statement, government officials said, “We will see UBC increasing its medical school intake by 40 and its residency program by up to 88, adding 128 new annual seats.”
But for Dalton and Jakobs, it is not enough to address the shortfalls foreign-trained doctors are facing if they were to proceed in the process of becoming Canadian doctors.