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N.S. bill aims to make it easier for Canadian health-care professionals to work in province

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Nova Scotia is cutting red tape and some administrative burdens within the health-care industry to allow health-care providers more time to see patients.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson introduced The Patient Access to Care Act in the legislature Tuesday, which is designed to make it easier for health-care professionals from other parts of Canada to work in Nova Scotia.

The province says highlights of the act include:

  • licensing or registration criteria will be waived for health-care providers coming from other parts of Canada, as needed and in accordance with Canadian free trade obligations
  • regulators cannot charge health-care professionals licensed in other parts of Canada an application fee
  • applications must be processed within five business days
  • supports the creation of regulations that will apply the above provisions to non-Canadian jurisdictions
  • allows all regulators to recognize the credentials and licences of health-care professionals trained outside Canada
  • ensures regulated health-care professionals can work to their full training and allows expanded scope of practice through regulations rather than legislation
  • employers will only be able to request a sick note if an employee is absent for more than five days or has already had two absences of five days or less in the previous 12-month period
  • allows the government to prescribe Workers Compensation Board forms and documents to improve the process for Nova Scotians and doctors

"If we continue to do things the same way, we are going to keep getting the same results," said Premier Tim Houston in a news release Tuesday.

"That is unacceptable for Nova Scotia, and that is unacceptable to me. The legislation introduced today includes things that should have been done a long time ago that will help Nova Scotians get the care they need faster."

Thompson says the province will cover the initial licensing fees for health-care workers who hold a licence in other parts of Canada.

Those fees range from $1,000 to $2,000 a year. Application fees can be up to $200 annually.

According to Thompson, 50,000 hours a year per doctor are dedicated to providing sick notes for patients.

"Paperwork shouldn't stand in the way of helping Nova Scotians get the care they need. When someone is sick, the last thing they should be thinking about is that they need to get a doctor's note. It's also the last thing a doctor needs to write, when they could be seeing a patient with more urgent care needs," said Thompson.

Doctors also completed more than 26,000 report forms for worker's compensation last year.

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