Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montréal, November 16, 2010 --- CRARR praises the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission’s report of inquiry into Quebec medical faculties’ exclusion of international medical graduates (IMGs) from residency positions, which confirms that IMGs have been treated in a discriminatory fashion.

The organization calls upon all IMGs who have been denied positions to file civil rights complaints against and sue medical schools for ethnic discrimination.

In June 2007, CRARR submitted, on behalf of the Coalition of Associations of Foreign-Trained Doctors, a formal request to the Commission to conduct a systemic inquiry into the situation, after interviewing many IMGs and reviewing the selection criteria and procedures for the residency program. The CRARR review concluded that the program contains many elements of direct and systemic discrimination (see attached letter, in French only). Examples include:

Overt discrimination:

  • selection committee members openly referring to the “good quality” of candidates’ command of French (even when candidates are French-speaking) and to their age during interviews;
  • experiences and expertise acquired by IMGs abroad not being taken into consideration by Quebec doctors on selection committees, since many domestically-trained doctors have themselves less experience than IMGs;
  • Systemic discrimination:

  • seemingly neutral program selection criteria and procedures that are culturally biased and that have a disproportionately adverse impact on IMGs (criteria such as “social maturity” and “professional communication skills”);
  • the weight given to the publication of scientific research (which few IMGs can achieve due to their lack of access to research funds);
  • the quasi-systematic absence of doctors from diverse origins on selection committees; and
  • the emphasis on “recent training and work experience.” Most IMGs being unable to gain this experience, as they must spend their time in preparatory activities to obtain equivalency.
  • As a result of CRARR's request, the Commission launched a systemic investigation into the situation, citing all four Quebec medical schools, the College of Physicians and the Ministry of Health and Social Services as respondents.

    In its report, the Commission noted that IMGs in Quebec have been excluded and discriminated against in accessing these residency positions (it is estimated that an average of 60 to 70 positions are left vacant each year). It found that IMGs have up to 6 to 7 times less chance of being admitted to a residency position compared with Quebec-trained graduates.

    The Commission concluded that these different procedures and practices “produce and maintain disproportionate effects of exclusion” on IMGs on the basis of their ethnic origin. It put forward eleven recommendations to help eliminate discriminatory barriers that hamper fair evaluation of IMGs’ skills and experiences as well as their access to residency positions, and ultimately, the medical profession.

    According to Mr. Fo Niemi, CRARR’s Executive Director, “This is the first official civil rights indictment of medical schools and other regulatory authorities in Canada for practicing systemic discrimination towards IMGs. We are very pleased that the Commission supported our claim because it will compel not only the medical profession, but also all other regulated professions to review their foreign credential recognition system to avoid discrimination.”

    “Discrimination ruins IMGs’ lives and careers, and deprives all Quebecers of much needed medical personnel and services, especially in regions where there is a shortage of doctors and where these foreign-trained doctors are willing to relocate to serve and care”, added Mr. Comlan Amouzou, Coalition Chair.

    The ramifications of this inquiry are enormous for health care institutions and IMGs across Canada as the door to anti-discrimination litigation is now widely open.

    “The human rights commission has provided the civil rights framework and foundation with which to combat systemic discrimination in the residency program. We strongly encourage all IMGs who have been denied access within the last two to three years to seek our help to file civil rights complaints and sue in order to bring about change,” Mr. Niemi concluded.

    For more information:

    QHRYRC Resolution-Findings.pdf86.98 KB
    QHRYRC Recommendations.pdf22.64 KB
    Demande du CRARR-Enquête DHCEU 07-07.pdf269.58 KB