Sys­tem will feel loss of Saudi doc­tors

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - BLAIR CRAW­FORD bcraw­ford@post­media.com twit­ter.com/getBAC

Teach­ing Saudi med­i­cal trainees in Canada is one of the best ways to ex­port Cana­dian val­ues, and their loss would have a neg­a­tive im­pact on pa­tient care, says the Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians and Sur­geons.

More than 1,000 Saudis are study­ing medicine in Canada, a third of whom are women, the col­lege says. Ear­lier this week, the Saudi gov­ern­ment or­dered those trainees home as part of its harsh re­tal­i­a­tion for a tweet from Global Af­fairs Canada that crit­i­cized the Saudis’ hu­man rights record and urged the im­me­di­ate re­lease of im­pris­oned hu­man-rights ac­tivists.

“It is crit­i­cal for the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment to be aware of the se­ri­ous im­pact to Canadians if this de­ci­sion is implemented,” the col­lege says in an emailed state­ment.

“There is no doubt that the sud­den loss of trained re­sources would im­pact pa­tient care across this coun­try.”

The Univer­sity of Ot­tawa has 67 trainees from the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia en­rolled in its Fac­ulty of Medicine, who prac­tise in Ot­tawa hospitals. The Ot­tawa Hos­pi­tal and the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of East­ern On­tario re­ferred ques­tions about how the loss of the Saudis will af­fect pa­tient care to the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa. The univer­sity pro­vided en­rol­ment fig­ures, but said it would not give any in­ter­views on the sub­ject.

Since 1978, more than 4,500 Saudis have com­pleted their ad­vanced med­i­cal train­ing in Canada, and in some prov­inces, Saudis make up a third of physi­cian trainees in hospitals, ac­cord­ing to the col­lege.

“Saudi physi­cians, who train in Canada, take home not only their ex­per­tise but fam­i­lies who have shared their Cana­dian cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence. The vast ma­jor­ity of prac­tis­ing Saudi spe­cial­ist physi­cians have re­ceived their train­ing in Canada, and through this ex­change be­come am­bas­sadors for our val­ues,” the col­lege says in its state­ment.

Saudis were by far the most nu­mer­ous nationality among the 4,515 for­eign-born med­i­cal grad­u­ates in Canada in 2017-18, mak­ing up more than 18 per cent of the to­tal, more than twice the per­cent­age of the next most com­mon nationality, Ir­ish. Nearly all have their ed­u­ca­tions funded by the Saudi gov­ern­ment — a lu­cra­tive source of rev­enue for Cana­dian med­i­cal schools.

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