Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock’s MP has weighed in on the upcoming closure of the Minden emergency department.
Speaking at the House of Commons on Thursday, Jamie Schmale said the staffing issues, cited by Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) as the reason for the closure, could have been addressed by the federal government years ago.
According to Schmale, there are an estimated 19,000 doctors and 34,000 nurses in Canada that cannot work in their jurisdiction because they were trained outside of it. He proposed the creation of a federal Blue Seal program, that would see workers take a test to make sure their skills meet industry requirements.
“Those that are coming into Canada that are trained abroad, they should be able to take a standardized test,” said Schmale. “And within a decent amount of time, get a yes or a no answer on whether or not they can practice in that field. And if the answer is no, what do they have to do to get up to that standard.”
Schmale said that having grown up in Bobcaygeon, he’s used the Minden Hospital’s ER on multiple occasions and understands the impact its closure has on the community. “It’s not necessarily a decision I support. I don’t necessarily agree with the closure of this emergency room in Minden, and especially the unfortunate timing of it,” he says.
However, Schmale said he recognizes the HHHS board and administration did not make the decision lightly. He added that as Minden Hills is Haliburton County’s fastest-growing community, housing affordability is another major area for the feds to address when it comes to attracting workers to the region, including within healthcare.
“The fact that there are tens of thousands of doctors and nurses that are not practicing in the field that they are trained to do should be addressed,” said Schmale. “Yes, by the provinces, but also the federal government. Why aren’t we creating a Blue Seal program that allows these people to get into the trades they’re trained in?”