Houston looks to halt inter-provincial healthcare recruitment, will pitch idea to other provinces

Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders are converging on Halifax for a two-day health summit that will focus on healthcare innovation, but Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says he wants to discuss inter-provincial recruiting of health-care professionals.

Houston told reporters he directed the provincial office of healthcare recruitment to cease the recruitment of professionals working in other provinces.

“I’m not a fan of going to another province to recruit some of their health-care professionals,” said Houston, who is also the chair of the Council of the Federation. “It’s a big world with lots of qualified people. We want to make sure we are recruiting appropriately and that will be part of the discussion.”

Nova Scotia Liberal leader Zach Churchill questioned Houston’s intention to restrict recruitment efforts while Nova Scotia continues to deal with a healthcare worker shortage.

“I don’t think we can limit where we are marketing to bring people in from,” said Churchill. “In fact, most of the population growth that we’ve had in the last number of years is from people from other provinces.”

NDP leader Claudia Chender told reporters that she trusts in the recruitment strategy but urges the province to take a stronger emphasis on worker retention.

“They need to start with making the workers here at home feel valid, well compensated and working in environments where they are able to do their job and right now from what we hear that is not the case,” said Chender.

In New Brunswick Dr. Paula Keating, a family physician and president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, says that interprovincial recruitment will continue as long as provinces manage healthcare but agrees that a national strategy could be helpful.

“There will always be, to some degree some inter-provincial recruiting,” said Dr. Keating. “A better strategy would be a pan-Canadian recruitment strategy.”

Keating suggests a national approach to coordinating and improving medical training positions and increasing medical school seats would go a long way.

A national recruitment strategy with an emphasis on attracting international medical graduates and spreading them across Canada equitably and where they are needed most could be effective.

Houston aims to recruit healthcare professionals from regions with comparable credentialing standards, like other Commonwealth countries and in parts of India and the Philippines.

The two-day health summit meeting between Canada’s premiers begins Sunday and continues Monday.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.


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