Nova Scotia announces new immigration stream to attract more doctors

WATCH: It's no secret that there's a shortage of doctors in Nova Scotia. In fact, there's tens of thousands of people on a waiting list for a family physician in the province. A new initiative announced Thursday is hoping to bring doctors to the province through a faster immigration process. Natasha Pace reports.

Nova Scotia has announced a new immigration stream in order to attract more doctors and specialists to the province.

Immigration Minister Lena Diab made the announcement on Thursday at Pier 21.

READ: Health officials say N.S. is recruiting doctors but still faces vacancy rates

The province is only the second to offer a dedicated immigration stream for doctors.

Its first recruit is Dr. Jamie Tribo, who currently lives in Virginia. Tribo was processed through the new stream earlier this month and plans to practice family medicine in Cape Breton beginning this spring.

“We are looking forward to our move to Nova Scotia,” said Tribo in a news release.

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“Obtaining a medical license in another country means clearing a lot of hurdles and paperwork before even beginning on immigration requirements. This new immigration program has made the process much simpler and shorter for us, and our recruiter has been a big help along the way.”

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The province says the stream will make the immigration process easier and faster for internationally-trained doctors and specialists who have already received approved job offers from the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) or the IWK Health Centre.

WATCH: ‘Burnout’ is an issue among half of Nova Scotia doctors who participated in survey

‘Burnout’ is an issue among half of Nova Scotia doctors who participated in survey
‘Burnout’ is an issue among half of Nova Scotia doctors who participated in survey

The province points out that the NSHA, the IWK, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia already assesses education, language ability, certification and credentials as part of their hiring process.

The new stream will rely on those assessments, which the province says will eliminate duplication and speed up the process.

“Physician recruitment is a priority for NSHA. We are operating in a competitive environment across Canada and internationally. This stream provides our province a much-needed advantage,” said Dr. Lynne Harrigan, NSHA vice-president, medicine and integrated health, in a release.

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“I’m encouraged by the amount of support we have from government, physicians, communities and staff to support our continued focus on improving access to primary care.

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The stream has been approved by the federal government as part of the Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program.

Last week, Diab said she is confident in the work the province is doing to promote the Atlantic Immigration pilot project, despite a low uptake over its first nine months.