Internationally Educated Medical Laboratory Technologists Bridging Programs Good Fiscal Policy for Canada

April 22, 2010



HAMILTON, ONTARIO (April 22, 2010) - A recent report produced by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) offers the first clear evidence that sustained government funding of bridging programs for internationally educated medical laboratory technologists (IEMLTs) is good fiscal policy.

The report, “Bridging Programs for Internationally Educated Medical Laboratory Technologists: A Business Case,” was funded by the Government of Canada’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program. Researched by the Centre for Spatial Economics and authored by Dr. Moira Grant, CSMLS Director of Research, the report concluded that bridging programs shorten the time for IEMLTs to become certified in Canada, decrease their financial hardships and expedite their integration into the Canadian laboratory workplace. As a result, IEMLTs contribute to the Canadian economy much sooner with the support of a bridging program.

Christine Nielsen, Executive Director, CSMLS, states that, “there is a growing shortage of medical laboratory technologists in Canada, and we consistently receive about 600 self-identified IEMLTs through immigration annually. The practice of medical laboratory science varies across the globe, and it is a requirement that all practitioners in Canada meet the rigorous entry to practice requirement, putting patient safety first at all times. A system that allows for additional training or practice in the Canadian context, that is accessible, affordable and reliable is imperative.”

CSMLS is the national certifying body for MLTs and medical laboratory assistants and the national professional society for Canada’s medical laboratory professionals. With the exception of Quebec, MLTs across Canada require CSMLS certification as a condition of licensure. Tania Toffner, Director of Certification and Prior Learning Assessment says, “CSMLS conducts a prior learning assessment (PLA) to evaluate the credentials and work experience of IEMLTs to determine if they are eligible to write the CSMLS national certification examination. Over 90% of the more than 300 IEMLTs who apply annually to the PLA process are not equivalent to the Canadian standards.” CSMLS provides IEMLTs with a learning plan and courses to help them address the knowledge gaps in order to write the exam. Since 2000, approximately 750 IEMLTs have been certified by CSMLS.

This report concludes that supporting IEMLTs through a government subsidized bridging program addresses both health care resource challenges and the need for equitable treatment of newcomer professionals to Canada with expectation of employment in their profession.

MLTs provide diagnostic data on blood and body tissue analysis that form the basis for up to 85% of physicians’ decisions about a patient’s diagnosis and treatment and comprise Canada’s third largest health profession.

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For more information contact:

Christine Nielsen
Executive Director, CSMLS
1-800-263-8277 ext. 8684

Tania Toffner
Director, Certification and Prior Learning Assessment, CSMLS
1-800-263-8277 ext 8681

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement : We respectfully acknowledge the CSMLS office, located in Hamilton, Ontario, is situated upon the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississauga Nation, Anishinaabe Peoples, and the Neutral Peoples. This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon wampum, which is a treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We further acknowledge that this land is covered by the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.


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