On April 7, 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced the launch of Ontario’s Health Workforce Matching Portal. This online portal will help match skilled frontline health workers with employers in need of additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Ford was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Finance Rod Phillips.
Following the announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott took questions from media about the capacity of Ontario’s health care system including the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Health Workforce Matching Portal
Today, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott announced the launch of a new online tool that will help match skilled frontline health care workers with employers. The Health Workforce Matching Portal will enable health care providers with a range of experience to join Ontario’s response to COVID-19 by matching the availability and skillsets of interested workers to employers in need of assistance. Eligible health providers include retired or non-active health care professionals, internationally educated health care professionals, students, and volunteers with health care experience.
Minister Elliott encouraged interested employers and health care professionals to create a profile on the portal. Once registered, professionals can add their availability and employers can enter requests for support. Registrants will be notified by email if matched. Minister Elliott is optimistic that the portal will help to identify and fill important health care gaps in communities across Ontario.
When questioned how professionals with international medical training will be matched, Minister Elliott responded that the credentials of each interested worker will be evaluated by medical professionals who will match the skillset of each applicant with appropriate roles. Minister Elliott clarified that while foreign-trained doctors may not necessarily be matched with a role that will enable them to practice medicine, they will still have an important role to play in Ontario’s COVID-19 response effort. Minister Elliott also suggested that acquiring medical experience by assisting Ontario with the COVID-19 response may offer foreign-trained professionals a path for obtaining professional credentials in Ontario, although this will be addressed after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Capacity of Ontario’s Health Care System
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott took questions from media about the capacity of Ontario’s health care system.
When questioned about Ontario’s supply of PPE, Premier Ford said that the agreement reached between the United States administration and 3M, which will ensure that Canada continues to receive N95 masks, was a positive development. He reiterated that Canada and Ontario need to reduce dependence on the global supply chain for essential medical supplies and continue to work to become self-sufficient.
Premier Ford was again asked about hospitals saving used PPE in the event that it needs to be sanitized for re-use. In response to these questions, Premier Ford reiterated that while the step of disinfecting used equipment would be taken if needed, Ontario is not yet at a point where this is necessary.
Following the hospitalization of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson due to COVID-19, Premier Ford was asked whether he had plans to ensure the continuity of government in the event that he or Deputy Premier Christine Elliott fell ill. Premier Ford wished Prime Minister Johnson well and assured reporters that he is adhering to social distancing recommendations when at Queen’s Park and his constituency office in Etobicoke. Premier Ford confirmed does not have plans to further isolate himself at the moment and believes it is important that he continues coming to Queen’s Park daily to update Ontarians on the provincial response to the pandemic.