What You Need to Know Before Moving to Canada

Prepare to work as a physician in Canada

Sarah Peddie

Preparing to move overseas to work as an expatriate need not be complicated and most potential difficulties can be overcome with thorough preparation. Priority must be given to obtaining the correct professional practise licence and visa or work permit and then the matters of accommodation, travel and education for children can be dealt with.


Once a job offer is agreed with a Canadian employer, the employer will arrange a Labour Market Report to demonstrate that a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (PR) is not available to work in the vacant position. This requires a minimum of 6 weeks advertising of the open vacancy. Upon completeing the Labour Market Report, the employer can then gain approval to sponsor a work permit for the new employee. The work permit is issued at the Canadian Embassy of High Commission in the country of residence of the employee. 

An alternative route of entry to Canada is the skills based point system which allows potential immigrants to accumulate points based upon qualifications, skills and work experience with bonus points added to immigrants with shortage skills. A minimum of 1200 points are required for a visa.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project allows a fast track application to Canadian citizenship or permanent residency for candidates willing to work in the Atlantic provinces of Canada where skills shortages are particularly acute, especially in the more remote areas.

The time frame for visa and work permit issue in the Canadian High Commissions or Embassies varies considerably by country and can take up to 16 weeks. 


Doctors seeking to practise in Canada must register with the website PhysiciansApply.ca and upload an EPIC Report or commence the primary source verification of their educational qualifications. Via this website, application can be made to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons for approval of specialist training. Approval of general practice / family medicine training is granted by the Canadian Collage of Family Physicians.

Each province in Canada has its own College of Physicians and Surgeons which issues the licence to practice as a specialist or family physician in the jurisdiction of the province.


Hospitals will usually provide short term accommodation for a month or longer for new physicians and during this time, you can secure local accommodation privately. 


Canada has a decentralized, universal, publicly funded health system called Canadian Medicare. Health care is funded and administered primarily by the country's 13 provinces and territories. Each has its own insurance plan, and each receives cash assistance from the federal government on a per-capita basis.


Education is compulsory in every province and territory in Canada, up to the age of 18 for Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nunavut, and Ontario, and up to the age of 16 for other jurisdictions. There is no federal department for education and education is the responsibility of each province, territory and local government. Throughout the country education classified as primary, secondary and post secondary.

The country is bilingual hence there are French speaking schools in the francophone province of Quebec. 


Canada is the second largest country in the world by geographical area, behind Russia. It has 10 provinces and 3 territories, the latter spanning the most northerly and coldest regions, and because of its great latitudinal extent, Canada has a wide variety of climates.

Ocean currents play an important role, with both the warm waters of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and the Alaska Current in the Pacific affecting climate.The northern two-thirds of the country has a climate similar to that of northern Scaninavia, with very cold winters and short, cool summers. The central southern area of the interior plains has a typical continental climate—very cold winters, hot summers, and relatively sparse precipitation. Southern Ontario and Quebec have a climate with hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters, similar to that of some portions of the American Midwest. Except for the west coast, all of Canada has a winter season with average temperatures below freezing and with continuous snow cover. 


There are six time zones in Canada covering four and a half hours. From west to east these time zones are: Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland. 

If you are interested in working in the Canadian medical system as a family physician or specialist, register your CV or contact us to discuss your interest.