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Enhancing Canada's healthcare workforce: the urgency for OET recognition

Canada is currently grappling with a shortage of qualified healthcare workers, a challenge that has been exacerbated by various factors, including the ongoing global health crisis. As we seek ways to bolster the healthcare workforce, it becomes crucial to explore avenues that can streamline the process of validating the proficiency of healthcare professionals.

However, an impediment exists in the current Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) policy, which requires highly sought-after international healthcare professionals to undergo a cumbersome process when applying for immigration.

The challenge with current policy

Under the present IRCC policy, international healthcare professionals can only use general-purpose English language tests for immigration. This results in a paradox where skilled foreign-trained healthcare professionals, armed with the requisite OET scores, must still undergo the additional burden of taking a separate, lower-level general-purpose English language test recognised by IRCC for immigration applications.

Unlocking potential with a simple policy change

Canada has a golden opportunity to enhance the express entry for healthcare professionals with a straightforward adjustment in IRCC policy. This much-needed change would not only streamline the immigration process but also make Canada an even more attractive destination for healthcare professionals globally.

OET's call to action

OET is urging the Canadian government to embrace a policy shift. This change would entail the acceptance of OET by the federal immigration department to align with the approval of OET by a growing number of national and provincial healthcare regulatory bodies. The aim is to enable international healthcare professionals to take a single English test that fulfils the requirements for both immigration and the healthcare regulation process.

International best practices

Countries that are major competitors for the globally mobile healthcare workforce have already streamlined their processes. The acceptance of OET for both immigration purposes and regulatory licensing is the norm in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand.

Progress and dialogue with OET

OET has engaged in meaningful discussions to date, advocating for this crucial policy change. The progress made and ongoing dialogue represent a shared commitment to enhancing Canada's healthcare workforce by removing unnecessary barriers for internationally trained healthcare professionals.

While the journey towards policy change unfolds, it's crucial to recognise the commendable steps taken by the Canadian government. Recent initiatives such as the creation of the Chief International Talent Officer role, Category-Based Selection draws, and efforts to improve foreign credential recognition reflect a proactive approach to enhancing the healthcare workforce.

Advantages of OET

Understanding the advantages of OET is pivotal in appreciating its role in the healthcare sector:

  • Relevance: OET assesses language proficiency within the context of medical communication, ensuring that healthcare professionals have the specific language skills required for success in their roles.
  • Efficiency: Recognising OET for immigration and regulatory purposes streamlines the process, saving both time and resources for healthcare professionals.
  • Global recognition: OET is widely accepted globally and is recognised by major English-speaking countries, fostering international mobility for healthcare professionals.

Recognising OET for immigration in addition to healthcare regulatory processes would be a progressive step toward addressing Canada's healthcare worker crisis. It aligns with international best practices and reflects a commitment to welcoming and integrating skilled healthcare professionals into the Canadian workforce seamlessly.

By endorsing the acceptance of OET, we collectively contribute to a stronger, more resilient healthcare system—one that welcomes diverse talents without unnecessary hurdles.

To make your voice heard on this issue, email The Hon. Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship at: Marc.Miller@parl.gc.ca