Doctor shortage to increase by 2015: study

Increase number of domestically trained docs urges the Fraser Institute

To help the northern territory combat the nation-wide doctor shortage, the Yukon recruited two new doctors this summer thanks to a program designed to fast-track the immigration of skilled professionals.

"The Yukon Nominee Program was developed by the government to fill labour market shortages that cannot be reasonably met through local training or recruitment," said Yukon Minister of Health and Social Services Brad Cathers.

Under the nominee program, a committee, comprised of Yukon government and industry representatives, reviews immigration applications from skilled workers. If the committee approves an application, the applicant is then recommended for an expedited immigration process.

"Thanks to the Yukon Nominee Program, our medical community has grown by two doctors," said Yukon Medical Association president Rao Tadepalli. "While we still face a shortage of skilled medical practitioners in the territory, the Yukon Nominee Program is a step in the right direction."

However, to really address the country's doctor shortage, the federal, provincial and territorial governments should stop regulating who gets into medical schools and allow qualified potential physicians to pay for their own training, according to a study from the Fraser Institute.

The study from the right-leaning economic think tank predicts the shortage will only worsen over the next decade. Previous studies showed that government restrictions on education and training in the late 1980s created the current doctor shortage and even though there are now more medical school spaces available, one in 10 doctors is still trained in another country.

Nadeem Esmail, author of the study, said it's wrong to encourage doctors from poor nations to fill the gap in Canada and force countries such as South Africa and India to make do with fewer physicians.

Forgoing medical school admission and training restrictions would mean the supply of doctors would be determined by patients' needs, not provincial funding decisions, said Esmail.

Currently governments decide what the future need is going to be and then base funding for medical school spaces on that need. That system has failed in the past and it won't work in the future because it is a complex area that needs to be driven by the needs of patients, said Esmail.

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