N.L. minister to meet with frustrated Ukrainian doctors in the province who fled war

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister Tom Osborne will meet with Ukrainian doctors who fled the Russian invasion of their country, following reports they feel ignored by the government since arriving in the province.

The Health Department said in a statement that Osborne will meet with the doctors on Thursday "to discuss their concerns." It said the government has been consulting since June with regulators in all professions, including health care, to ensure newcomers can better understand and navigate the licensing process.

"Solutions identified include paying for licensure for Ukrainian newcomers and continuing to consult with the [College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador] and Memorial University toward lowering barriers while maintaining industry standards," spokeswoman Laura Thomas wrote in the statement emailed Tuesday evening.

All physicians wanting a licence to practise in Newfoundland and Labrador can apply online at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador website, the statement added.

News of the meeting comes after Ukrainian doctors who recently arrived in the province said they were eager to practise in the province but were frustrated by a lack of communication from provincial officials. In the meantime, some said they were in contact with recruiters from Nova Scotia, who were offering supports and incentives to relocate.

Nova Scotia built an online intake portal for Ukrainian health-care professionals through which they can answer a questionnaire ⁠— written in English and Ukrainian ⁠— about their experience and credentials and then upload a resume.

A spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Health Department said Tuesday that it wasn't aware of "proactive communications" with Ukrainian doctors in Newfoundland through its recruiting offices. However, anyone who completes the intake form "is being followed up with, regardless of where they reside," Khalehla Perrault said.

Newfoundland and Labrador's medical association released poll figures last month showing that nearly one in four people in the province were without a family doctor.

The provincial government has worked hard to help Ukrainians resettle in Canada's easternmost province. The Immigration Department established a satellite office in Warsaw, Poland to attract newcomers fleeing Russian attacks, and the province chartered two planes to bring Ukrainians to St. John's, N.L. from Poland.

Tuesday's Health Department statement said immigration officials involved in the efforts have provided health employers in the province with resumes from Ukrainian medical professionals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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