SOCASMA’s goals are basically about going back to fundamentals: that all Canadians live under a democracy that honours equality, fairness and freedom. Read the overview below and become aware of how our fundamental rights are being violated.
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF A FREE AND DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY
1. Canadian law is based on the principles of a free and democratic society.
2. This might seem trite, but this basic premise is sometimes lost. The problems that Canadians studying medicine abroad (CSAs) experience in coming home to practice medicine, is founded in the deviation from fundamental principles of our society.
3. Federal legislation prevents foreigners from joining our Canadian society without specific permission. Immigration laws are designed to grant privileges and protect Canadians in relation to foreigners.
4. But all Canadians, whether new Canadians or whether born in Canada, are entitled to the same rights and opportunities. That is the hallmark of a free and democratic society.
5. The basic principles of a free and democratic society are:
- Freedom: the right to make fundamental choices to develop as a person without interference unless it is harmful to society.
- Mobility: the right to move around and away from Canada, and back again.
- Equality: the right to compete against all other Canadians for opportunities on the basis of individual merit without discrimination.
6. After Canadian universities obtained full control over training of medical graduates in the 1990s, they implemented policies that gave preferential access to their graduates (CMGs), virtually guaranteeing them positions in their first job. They divided competition for medical residency jobs into two streams: a gold-plated stream for their graduates, and a second class stream with limited opportunities and increased burdens for international medical graduates.
7. Many Canadians, especially Canadian medical school graduates, think that this is fair because we should protect our own, “our own” being students who attend Canadian universities. Many CSAs feel that it is unfair to them because they were born and raised in Canada and should be equal to CMGs or at least advantaged over immigrant IMGs. The concept of one segment of Canadians being more entitled than another is inconsistent with the principles of a free and democratic society.
8. It is important in a free and democratic society to never lose sight that although we may be different, we are all Canadians. We are all free and entitled to equal opportunity.
9. A free and democratic society does not give advantages to one segment of its society at the expense of another segment. In a free and democratic society, all members must have an equal right to compete on individual merit.
10. The only preferential treatment that a free and democratic society tolerates is affirmative action, where a disadvantaged segment of our society needs some additional opportunity to get into a position where they can overcome their disadvantages as a group, and have equal opportunity. It is important to support and help those members of our society for the benefit of all. Women have the opportunities they have today because of affirmative action. Disabled people are able to work and contribute because of affirmative action.
11. An IMG stream that is designed to give immigrant physicians (whose cultural and language barriers prevent them from competing successfully in the main stream) some positions which are protected from competition against those without barriers, so they can get support to overcome their barriers, is not contrary to the principles of a free and democratic society. This is affirmative action.
12. However, favouring those members of society who are not disadvantaged, by excluding from competition other members of society who are qualified, breaches the principles of a free and democratic society.
13. It is inconsistent with the principles of equality to protect and prefer one group of society over another. In other words, it is wrong to prefer CMGs over CSAs. It is also inconsistent to prefer CMGs and CSAs over immigrant IMGs who have overcome the cultural and language barriers that many members of their group share.
14. UBC says that CSAs have to be excluded from the CMG stream because IMGs are excluded and CSAs are IMGs. They say this is necessary under human rights law. UBC says, “Everyone who is the same has to be treated the same.” The Supreme Court of Canada says this is not the law.
15. It is obvious why. The result of treating all Canadians who share common characteristics exactly the same, without regard to why there was some need for different treatment in the first place, gives rise to ridiculous and unfair results. For example, our best and brightest student is given a Rhodes scholarship to study in one of the best medical schools in the world, Oxford University. If he accepts this prestigious award, he cannot come back to British Columbia to work as a medical resident in plastic surgery, which is his dream. He is only allowed to compete for 3 out of 64 areas of specialization. Further, he has to sit out a year after graduation to even be able to compete for a residency position and he must sign a contract of servitude to work which obligates him to work where he is told after he completes residency for as many years as his residency. Canadian medical school graduates, whose education was highly subsidized by the tax payer, face no such obligation.
16. Another example of a ridiculous result when a body operates under this misapprehension of law, involves the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. When Canadians who are born and educated in Canada, study medicine in an English speaking medical school in a country which does not have English as its first language, the College requires these English speaking Canadians to pay for and write an English fluency exam before the College will register them.
17. The law did not and does not sanction excluding all IMGs from competition. This is discrimination. As stated above, there is nothing wrong with creating a separate stream for IMGs who need a foot up. There is something wrong with excluding all IMGs from competition against CMGs. And even if no immigrant IMGs were able to compete, this does not justify excluding CSAs who do not have language and cultural barriers to overcome.
18. It is human nature to want to give those closest to us an advantage. It is not surprising that the universities would want to protect and give advantages to their graduates. But that is why we have a justice system. The law is set up to allow Canadians to set things right when fundamental principles of a free and democratic society, are breached by bodies acting to further their own interests.
19. It is incumbent on every Canadian to jealously guard the principles of a free and democratic society. Every breach is an erosion of the fabric of our society.
20. If military aggression sought to take away our freedom, Canada would go to war. Equally, if not more dangerous, is erosion of freedom. Erosion has a way of undermining a foundation in a way that is not apparent until the foundation collapses.