1. There is a serious shortage of medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) in Canada. In fact, about half of all MLTs will be eligible to retire in the next ten years. What is your party willing to do to address the shortage of MLTs and other health care professionals in this country?
Liberals believe that urgent action is necessary to address the critical health human resources shortage in the country in order to ensure that our public health system provides sustainable, quality, timely, and accessible care to Canadians.
A Liberal government will work with the provinces, territories, and stakeholders to increase our capacity to train new healthcare professionals, and integrate qualified foreign-trained professionals into our health system.
Rural Canadians have long struggled with a level of health care service that is not on par with urban centres. In cooperation with provinces and territories, a Liberal government will introduce a new incentive by forgiving a portion of Canada Student Loans for doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners choosing to practice in a designated underserved small-town or rural community. Family doctors will be eligible for student loan forgiveness up to $8,000 per year to a maximum of $40,000. Nurses and nurse practitioners will be eligible for student loan forgiveness up $4,000 per year to a maximum of $20,000. Quebec does not participate in the Canada Student Loans Program, therefore a Liberal government will work with the government of Quebec to determine the best ways to meet the objectives.
A Liberal government will maintain the 6% annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer beyond 2014. This commitment will provides billions of dollars to provinces and territories, fund which could be used to address health human resources issues.
2. One barrier to addressing the issue of human resources is the appropriate resourcing of clinical education, which is vital to the training of the next generation of professionals. Without appropriate resources, clinical education is a further stress on an already burdened laboratory staff. Crushing workloads impact the ability of facilities to provide high quality clinical education. How will your party address this if you are elected?
As noted above a Liberal government will provide significant new resources for the healthcare system, by maintaining the 6% annual increase in the Canada Health Transfer beyond 2014. The provinces will be able to use these funds to address quality and capacity issues throughout the system.
The Canadian Learning Passport, which a Liberal government will introduce, will provide a significant financial boost for higher education delivered directly to families. It will provide $1,000 a year over four years for every high school student in Canada to use for college, university or CÉGEP. For students in low income families, the amount will be $1,500 a year, or an extra $6,000 in total.
The Learning Passport will be a new federal investment of $1 billion annually in post-secondary education across Canada.
A Liberal government will also work with the provinces and territories on the future of Canada Social Transfer and how best we can ensure stable funding for education and social programs.
3. There has been a lot of talk in this election about helping internationally educated health care professionals enter the Canadian workforce quickly. Many of these professionals require upgrading their education and experience to bring them up to Canadian standards. Would your party favour providing long-term sustainable funding for bridging programs for internationally educated health care professionals, so that they can obtain their Canadian credentials?
Beyond our strong commitments on healthcare and education described above, particularly the Learning Passport, a Liberal government will provide support to improve foreign credential recognition and improve and expand language training.
The federal government must do a better job screening and advising prospective immigrants on credential recognition before they leave their countries of origin. Improving credential recognition and more quickly integrating new Canadians into the workforce requires a renewed level of concerted attention and more effective cooperation among the federal government, provinces, territories, professional groups, educational institutions, sector councils and unions. A Liberal government will make this a priority.
Liberals believe that it is in everyone’s interests that new Canadians succeed in the workforce, and can fully participate in the daily life of their communities. Under the Canadian Learning Strategy, a Liberal government will significantly increase federal investment to improve and expand language skills training programs, ramping up to an increase of $100 million annually within four years.
We will expand eligibility to include foreign born Canadian citizens who need help improving their English or French, and work with partners to make language training more flexible and accessible, and better inform potential participants to increase take-up.