COVID-19: Ontario allowing medical licenses for some internationally trained doctors.

International medical graduates who passed their exams to practice in Canada, or graduated from school in the past two years, can now apply for a 30-day supervised medical license in the province of Ontario to help fight COVID-19 through the Short Term Supervised Certificate Licencing.

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So In this article, we’d be telling you what the short-term license is all about, requirements and how to get it.

What is a Short Term Supervised Certificate? 

The short-term license, called the Short-Term Supervised Certificate, allows some doctors and graduates of national medical schools trained abroad to practice under supervision in public hospitals and psychiatric centers.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) began issuing these certificates in 2020 unannounced, by triggering a provision in existing provincial legislation and so far few physicians have applied for it.

Although many are probably unaware that this is an option, like an Iraqi refugee named Kutiaba Mustafa who now knows this and plans to apply for the license.  

Mustafa worked as a gynecologist in his native Iraq for 14 years before coming to Canada in 2015, and in those years, he has since passed his Medical Council of Canada exams in order to continue practicing here in the country.

The college made the certificates available at a time of increased tension within the province’s hospitals, as approximately 1 in 10 known COVID-19 cases in Ontario were from healthcare workers and more doctors were needed to deal with. with the expected increase in cases.

International trained doctors needed

Ontario province premier Doug Ford cautioned that there was very little difference between what Ontario would face and the devastation Italy’s healthcare system has seen, so internationally trained physicians are being sought to help on the front lines of the pandemic.

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca sees these licenses as a positive development in the fight against COVID-19, within what current provincial legislation allows.

But he cautions that you should also consider tapping into the skill sets of other internationally trained healthcare workers, such as nurses, technicians, and doctors who do not meet the legislative criteria.

A chance for advocacy 

In Ontario, there are over 13,000 foreign-educated doctors and 6,000 foreign-educated nurses who do not work in their fields, according to figures from HealthForceOntari.

As those Internationally trained medical doctors (ITMD) have found out, the path to been licensed in Canada is infuriatingly slow and costly. 

See: How to be a practicing Nurse in Canada

In Ontario, even after passing the licensing exams, there are not sufficient residency openings available, which is a prerequisite to gaining a license to practice.

According to the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) in 2019, lesser than a quarter of international medical graduates who applied for residency places were matched to them, in context, that’s 391 slots for 1,725 applicants.

So advocacy groups like OCASI, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), and World Education Services (WES) are beckoning on the province to device a plan to “recruit, train and deploy” foreign-trained doctors and nurses “to assist Ontario’s health-care system in case of emergencies.”

Debbie Douglas said, “this is about having all hands on deck. It is an opportunity to utilize the resources that exist in our society.”


Applicants for the 30-day short term supervised license must have:

  • Graduated from a medical school in Canada, the U.S. or an institution that was listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools at the time of graduation.
  • Passed Medical Council of Canada exams, practised medicine or graduated medical school within the last two years.
  • Obtained a job working in a hospital, psychiatric facility or for a Crown agency; and
  • Located a physician ready to act as their supervisor.

in Ontario, after the 30 days, those doctors who received the temporary licenses to practice can extend the license for an additional 30 days.

Other provinces are also finding ways to get internationally trained doctors into hospitals as fast as they can, including The College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C which has been fast-tracking its bylaws and permitting ITMDs with a minimum of two years of post-graduate training and completion of the first part of the eligibility exam to apply for a supervised associate physician license to fight the COVID-19.

Appreciation for healthcare workers

Appreciation for the front-line healthcare workers has never been more keenly felt and individuals globally are applauding their selfless dedication by clapping, ringing bells, and banging pots and pans from their doorways and balconies. 


If there’s anything positive that can come out from this awful pandemic, it would be a dedication by The College of Physicians and Surgeons to reevaluate the current licensing procedures and get internationally educated medical doctors into the Canadian health care system quicker.

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