Health Worker Migration

Significant numbers of foreign-trained health workers from developing countries migrate every year to developed countries, such as Canada. In some cases, this migration severely compromises the health care systems of the developing countries they are migrating from. Consequently, developed countries’ gains in health human resources from developing countries with significantly lower ratios of health workers have raised questions about the ethics or fairness of recruitment from such countries.

The majority of health professional migrants come to Canada already in possession of skills and sometimes with considerable training and experience. Canada, like other developed nations must not place their need for health professionals ahead of the health of people in other countries, especially those in greater health need.

Our researchers have undertaken a number of projects to determine legally-sound, empirically-justified, and ethically grounded policy options that Canada can pursue to manage the migration of health professionals from developing countries.  Corporate responsibility may provide one means at the local organizational level for developing policies on ethical recruitment. Such local policies and subsequent practices may then inform public debate on the health equity implications inherent in the global health worker labour market, which in turn could influence political choices at all government and health system levels.