Monthly Archives: April 2014

Medical marijuana: New rules and a ‘ton of confusion’

Physicians reluctant to become gatekeepers for those who want legal access to pot

Medical marijuana users across Canada can be forgiven for being confused right now.

First, they thought that with the new medical marijuana regime that comes into effect tomorrow, they would lose their ability to grow their own legal pot at home and have to buy it instead from new large-scale commercial operations.

Plus, it seemed the users would have to dismantle their own growing operations, and could find police on their doorsteps if they didn’t notify Health Canada by April 30 that they had stopped production and destroyed all their plants.

‘It’s very confusing right now, and for people like me who are thinking about this and absorbed in it all day, it’s kind of hard to keep track of what’s going on.’– Dana Larsen, director of non-profit group Sensible B.C.

But a Federal Court ruling on March 21 changed the legal landscape, at least temporarily, and users licensed for personal production as of Sept. 30, 2013, will be able to keep growing their pot at home pending a future trial.

Click the link to read the whole CBC News story –

Physician-assisted death is going to become legal’: Canada’s right-to-die debate almost over, doctors say

It’s time to move beyond the drawn out “yes” or “no” arguments over doctor-assisted death and prepare for a future where sick patients would be granted the freedom to choose when and how they die, doctors who specialize in caring for the terminally ill argue in Canada’s leading medical journal.

Article Foretelling Dark Future for Canadians Who Study Medicine Abroad Reprehensible

According to a recent article entitled “False Hope for Canadians Who Study Medicine Abroad” from the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research by Barer, Evans and Hedden, – Canadians that choose to study Medicine abroad should not expect any special consideration, and can expect an unpleasant outcome in their efforts to re-enter Canada to practice medicine.;186/7/552

Much of the article’s statistical information and the bleak picture for Canadians Studying Abroad (CSAs) who want to enter Canadian residency programs are accurate. However, the conclusion by the authors presents a very dark and difficult road for these brave and enterprising CSAs to return home to practice medicine. What is reprehensible is the fact that the authors apparently did not research other existing career pathways that can indeed put CSAs on an even playing field with their Canadian trained compatriots.

Although, I would never dissuade a CSA from applying for entry to a Canadian residency program, I would also inform them that they are only one of thousands applying for about 330 seats allocated to foreign medical graduates – with the odds of success approaching that of a Canadian government sanctioned lottery.

More importantly, I would also advise them that if they were to continue their post-graduate medical education and training in specified foreign jurisdictions, they can attain Canadian medical training equivalancy and re-enter Canada on an equal footing with their Canadian trained colleagues.

Specifically, CSAs who choose to complete their Family Medicine/General Practice training and obtain certification in the USA, the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand, will become eligible for CCFP certification by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, possibly without sitting the CCFP examinations. Further, depending in which Canadian province they choose to practice, they may also be exempt from the Medical Council of Canada examinations.

CSAs who choose to complete their Specialty training and obtain certification in one of several jurisdictions across the globe that are recognized by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, can become eligible to sit the corresponding Canadian Royal College examinations, and obtain certification before, or after their return to Canada. In the case of CSA trained Specialists I do agree with the authors that, regardless of the Canadian province in which they wish to practice, they must complete the LMCC Licentiate from the Medical Council of Canada.

Indeed, there are also other alternate pathways via specific provincially managed medical  assessment programs. These programs are typically targeted toward specific medical disciplines in high-need communities that can change over the course of time. Therefore, a careful evaluation of the program and each CSA’s medical credentials must be completed before making a commitment to enter the pathway.

It is unfortunate that the authors chose to only present the bleak side of this issue, rather than research more deeply to uncover their alternative global medical education options for CSAs to guide them back to Canada – with their heads held high with pride!

In summary, every profession has specialists, in this case I highly recommend that Canadians studying medicine abroad consult with a Canadian physician recruitment specialist now, to get the right professional advice to plan their return home – on their own terms.

Phil A. Jost MBA is Vice President and Regional Manager, CanAm Physician Recruiting Inc., with more than 25 years experience in the public and private Canadian healthcare sector.



Prediction of Hospital Closures due to new LMO regulations!

Recently the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy released its final report, “Now or Never”: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians, or what is now referred to as the “Ivany Report”.  The report proposes a national project to address current economic and population challenges. Although focused on Nova Scotia, the report is also a clarion call to all Canadians concerned about our economy and the safety of our cherished health care system.

The Ivany report makes a number of recommendations on immigration, including increasing the number of permanent residents that settle here each year and retaining more international student graduates.

The Ivany Report’s criticism of the federal government’s immigration policies are scathing, and support observations also made by John Philpott, CEO, CanAm Physician Recruiting Inc., Canada’s premiere physician recruiting firm.

Philpott agrees that while the federal government is talking about improving the efficiency of the immigration system, all evidence points in the opposite direction.

New Labour Market Opinion (LMO) policy by Employment & Social Development Canada (ESDC) to the temporary foreign worker program, and recent cuts to staff and offices at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, have resulted in significant delays in the processing of LMO applications, work permit applications and permanent residency applications. Philpott states that in this regard, the Ivany Report actually understates the reality. Feedback from CanAm’s public and private clients are rife with complaints of over-zealous and poorly trained ESDC officers denying LMO physician applications on apparent frivolous technicalities, thus, preventing the employment of physicians in communities facing dire physician shortages.

Private clinics and hospitals, particularly in rural communities, with severe physician shortages simply can’t entice enough Canadian trained physicians, because they prefer careers in the more clinically challenging major urban centres.

The new LMO policy restrictions will force communities across Canada who are in desperate need to face even longer delays filling thousands of physician vacancies. Sadly, and contrary to the Report, we will obviously miss the opportunity to retain these highly motivated professionals as permanent residents, and worthy new Canadian citizens.

Delays in the LMO process threaten all business operations in the private sector and the public sector.  If a highly skilled worker – be it a Speech Pathologist, Nurse, Family Physician, or a cardiologist destined for a high need community – cannot get permission to enter Canada, that highly skilled worker will look elsewhere. We are in a global competition for this essential and highly skilled labour.

The recent LMO policy changes have subjected highly educated, affluent physicians to the same test as more vulnerable foreign workers such as, erotic dancers, labourers, kitchen workers and factory workers.

CanAm is known for its expertise in filling the impossible part-time (locum) and full-time, urgent physician vacancies. Typically, a standard locum request to CanAm would be to fill an urgent need for an Emergency Room physician, Anesthesiologist or General Surgeon in order keep critical Emergency Room and Operating Room services operating. Prior to these new LMO changes CanAm, with the collaboration of astute and compassionate ESDC staff, were able to get an LMO approved often in less than 48 hours. Our target pool of physician candidates were foreign trained physicians who were already approved for a work permit in other jurisdictions in Canada, often within the same province, who are motivated to become Canadian Permanent Residents. Sadly, now the new LMO policies enforced by over-zealous ESDC staff, unaware of the impact on patient care services of denying and/or delaying their decisions by several weeks,- – means those days are gone!

Philpott predicts dire consequences resulting from these new ill-timed, ill-planned, and ill-resourced LMO policies, specifically:

–          Fewer ESDC staff now focusing on protecting educated, confident, resourceful and wealthy professions, means fewer staff are focusing on the more vulnerable less skilled foreign workers, now more exposed than before to exploitation.

–          More Emergency room closures across the country.

–          Hospital closures, especially in under-served areas.

–          A return to ballooning health care costs as aging Canadians suffer the consequences of late diagnosis of normally treatable chronic disease, such as, diabetes, COPD, heart disease, stroke and cancer, to name a few.

Is the Minister stating that highly educated, often wealthy, and usually self-reliant physicians are being exploited? Clearly our elected representatives are out of touch with the truly vulnerable – Canadians are increasingly being denied much needed surgeries, emergency room services and early diagnosis of life threatening disease – Canada can do better!