Access to health care is threatened



  • Medical Laboratory Technologists: It is estimated that up to 85% of physicians’ decisions regarding patients’ diagnoses and treatment are based on laboratory test results, yet we cannot produce enough graduates to replace those who will retire over the next 15 years.
  • Radiological (X-Ray) Technologists: The most significant challenge is not the cost of new technology, it is recruitment and retention – and the demand for technologists far exceeds the supply.
  • Respiratory Therapists: Ontario’s fastest growing population segment is people over age 75, who suffer from respiratory aliments more frequently than younger patients. Yet for every graduate, there are two empty positions.
  • The Ontario Government, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Access to Professions and Trades Unit has contributed over $1.7 million to The Michener Institute to address these critical shortages. Michener will design, develop and deliver bridging programs that assist international health technologists and therapists in obtaining Canadian certification to practice.
  • ACCESS & OPTIONS opened its doors in April 2002. Over 400 international health technologists and therapists have attended information sessions and most have started the process towards Canadian certification.
The pilot programs helped more than 30 international health professionals prepare to write their certification examinations.

Addressing the Health Care shortage through the ACCESS & OPTIONS Project

That there is a shortage of healthcare professionals in Ontario and across Canada will not be news to most of our readers. The Ontario government has recognized this gap, and is addressing it in several ways, including providing assistance to professionals who were educated internationally and are currently unable to practise in Ontario.

The Access and Options (A&O) Program began at The Michener Institute in January 2002. It is one of the “bridging” projects funded by The Access to Professions and Trades Unit of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to assist internationally trained professionals to gain access in Ontario to employment in their profession. Nine projects were awarded to nine lead institutions in January 2002, adding to the two existing projects in pharmacy and nursing. The project awarded to Michener encompasses the largest number of professions, and double the funding awarded to any other project. The A&O at Michener will assist internationally trained clients to meet the requirements of the regulatory bodies responsible for the following five pro fessions: diagnostic cytology, medical laboratory science, radiological technology, respiratory therapy and magnetic resonance imaging.

Clients who enrol in Michener’s A&O Program will be assisted in four major ways:

  • Partnerships have been formed with two external groups to manage the English language needs of some of our clients.
  • Interdisciplinary studies will be made available to assist learners in expanding their knowledge and skills in the areas of workplace law and legislation in Canada/Ontario, preparation to write a competency-based exam, and career planning.
  • Profession-specific review courses will be offered.
  • Any clients requiring clinical upgrading or Canadian work experience will be enrolled at a clinical site.

Seven information sessions have been held at the Michener, with a total attendance of over 400 potential clients. To date we have run a pilot program for twenty clients in medical laboratory science, eleven clients in radiography and two in respiratory therapy. While some clients have just finished writing their certification exams others will be writing in the new year. We look forward to future development and offerings of courses.

We’re sure that most of you have stories from when you, your parents or your ancestors immigrated to Canada and faced a new country with many restrictions to access. We’re very proud that the Michener has made the decision to commit to A&O clients.

Our clients are not the only ones who will benefit from this program, although they are the most obvious “winners”. Another benefit is that healthcare vacancies will be filled, decreasing the excessive demands being placed on practising professionals and on “the system”. As residents of Ontario, we’ll all benefit from this injection of professionals into our healthcare system.