LETTER: Steelworkers propose health care fixes to Trudeau, Ford

‘We, the undersigned, are requesting that the government adopt the following process to reduce if not eliminate burnout levels of work to our health care professionals’

Leaders with the United Steelworkers have penned an open letter to both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, calling for changes aimed at improving the health care system. Below is the full letter.

Recently I observed an excerpt from the Question Period at Provincial Parliament and was disappointed at the response of the Ford Government. The response was literally no action and referenced some funding for health care delivery. That funding did absolutely nothing for the Group Health. The comment that it would provide some 4500 patients primary care is motherhood and apple pie dialogue. There is no methodology in those responses.

This letter is to lay out the process that the Steelworkers are proposing.

A number of articles and discussions with the doctors clearly show that there is an overload of clerical style work, forms, employment related notes, cumbersome referrals to specialists etc. that must be made by physicians. It was reported that as much as 20 hours per week are devoted to paperwork.

Furthermore, having been hospitalized, it was clear to see that all the nursing staff were overworked and overloaded with record keeping leading to burnout. As a result, we are facing a critical shortage of health care professionals.

We, the undersigned, are requesting that the government adopt the following process to reduce if not eliminate burnout levels of work to our health care professionals.

RE: Nursing

Nurses are professional people. They should be treated with respect and be able to take pride in their work. In today’s environment, nurses are expected to do all the work associated with caring for a patient. There is a shortage of nurses for various reasons.

Nurses should be treated as professionals and should be supported by Personal Support Workers and Registered Practical Nurses. This would allow the nursing workforce to increase in a shorter time frame rather than Registered Nurses exclusively.

Medical clerical support staff should be provided to relieve the record keeping time required by the nursing staff.

These measures would increase the nursing time devoted to patients rather than record keeping and non-nursing activities.

RE: Primary Care Physicians

British Columbia has a program in place to assess Internationally Trained Primary Care Physicians.

The website is

An excerpt from the website describes the program.

Program overview

The Practice Ready Assessment – BC (PRA-BC) Program supports equitable access to government-funded health services for residents across B.C. It provides a pathway to licensure for eligible internationally-trained family physicians through a clinical skills assessment. In exchange, successful participants complete a three-year return of service (ROS) in a community in need of medical services.

Furthermore, a process exists in Ontario. The website https://www.cpso.on.ca/en/Physicians/Registration/Registration-Policies/Practice-Ready-

outlines the program.

Touchstone Institute

Touchstone Institute is the administrator of the Practice Ready Assessment Program (Practice Ready Ontario – PRO). For information on PRO, including eligibility and applying, please visit the Touchstone Institute website.

The National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) has created a pan-Canadian model with a set of common standards, tools, and materials for practice ready assessment (PRA) programs.

Practice Ready Ontario (PRO) is a PRA program available to internationally trained family physicians with the aim of obtaining an independent practice certificate in Ontario. This program aligns with the NAC standards.

The PRA program provides successful candidates with the opportunity to work under supervision and be assessed for clinical competence over a period of 12 weeks. Candidates who successfully complete the assessment will be required to complete a three-year Return of Service (ROS) agreement with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to practice in a community in Ontario as identified by the MOH.

There is information that there is a group of up to 49 International Medical Doctors in Sault Ste. Marie. We believe everything possible should be done to assist them to find employment in a local health care organization rather than being underemployed or not employed at all. We are specifically requesting that any endeavors undertaken such as consultation groups or task forces work towards the principle of utilizing international medical doctors as the short term solution to the shortage of Primary Care Physicians.

The use of internationally trained doctors is the keystone of the Steelworkers plan to quickly increase the roles of Primary Care Physicians. The programs certainly fit the Group Health Centre model, spirit and intent.

We are asking the government to immediately implement the Practice Ready Ontario program in Sault Ste. Marie.

Furthermore, we are requesting that the Ministry provide extra funding to obtain trained medical clerical support personnel to support the GHA Physicians which will increase their patient time and patient throughput.


Michael Da Prat, President USW Local 2251

Rebecca McCracken, President USW Local 2724

Hans De Feyter, President USW Local 9548

Marc Ayotte, USW Area Coordinator

Burnie Thorp, President SOAR Chapter 6-17


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