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As Ontario ERs buckle, nurse groups want international applicants’ licenses expedited

Ontario nursing organizations are calling for a faster licensing process for thousands of internationally trained nurses awaiting a decision from the profession’s regulator.

The calls from nursing groups, including the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, have taken on added urgency as some hospitals have recently been pushed to temporarily close ERs due to staffing shortages.

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A report from Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner showed the province’s nursing regulator faced setbacks during the pandemic as it worked through a backlog of thousands of international applicants.

The 2020 report found that 14,633 internationally educated nurses were actively pursuing a license through the Ontario College of Nurses. That same year, just over 2,000 international applicants became fully registered members.

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The college says this year has been record-setting, with nearly 4,000 applications processed by the end of June, more than double what it had processed by that time last year.

It says changes to its language proficiency policy and partnerships with the province to create more supervised practice opportunities have helped create efficiencies in the licensing system.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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