Letter from Mayor Patrick Brown to Ontario’s Health Minister

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown File pic: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

Dear Minister Elliott,


I want to thank you for your efforts and leadership during this economic and health crisis caused by the coronavirus.  I am ever so grateful for the work being done by our health care professionals.  I get daily updates from the leadership teams at William Osler Health Systems and Trillium Health Partners.  It has been great seeing everyone work together on Team Canada.


I am very worried that this pandemic will last for quite a few more months.  Hopefully we will have enough Personal Protective Equipment for our medical staff.  However, I think the bigger concern is the need for more doctors and nurses to fight this pandemic.  My City Council colleague, Charmaine Williams recently sent you the attached letter on March 23 regarding the need to eliminate the barriers for foreign-trained medical professionals.  Canada lags well behind all but the United States among 11 of the wealthiest nations when it comes to the number of doctors per capita, a new report indicates.  The analysis by the Commonwealth Fund, a health-care advocacy group, finds Canadians have 2.7 practising physicians per 1,000 people, compared with 2.6 for the U.S. Norway has the most at 4.8 and Germany at 4.1.


Your government should examine the feasibility and need to utilize our pool of foreign trained healthcare professions. According to the HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency, there are 13,000 foreign educated doctors and 6,000 foreign educated nurses whose expertise can assist the province at this time.  I believe many of them live in Brampton!  Other jurisdictions, like the State of New York and New Jersey are taking this approach.


Currently the province only offers 200 entry level post-graduate training positions annually for International Medical Graduates; that means close to 1800 applicants are turned down.  The Ontario Government needs to provide more funding for hospital residencies.  The College of Physicians and Surgeons should feel compelled to reduce barriers to registration for qualified candidates by facilitating the development of pathways to registration that are more fair.


We are in a health crisis that we have not seen in our lifetime.  As you are aware, Brampton City Council declared a health care emergency on January 23.  I saw your announcement on Friday when you released extensive COVID-19 modelling, revealing several scenarios that project the potential number of cases and deaths.  Over the course of the pandemic, between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths related to COVID-19 are predicted with current public health measures in place.


The time to act is now.  We need more health care professionals on the frontlines.  There are unemployed foreign trained professionals living in Brampton, Hamilton, Whitby and in many other cities and towns across Ontario.  Let’s take all actions necessary to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.


I look forward to hearing from you.




Patrick Brown