Moira Stilwell’s motherhood issue

The B.C. MLA wants to make life easier for international medical graduates--like her son
A motherhood issue
Photograph by Stephen Hui

British Columbia MLA Moira Stilwell wants to make it easier for B.C. medical students studying abroad to land residency positions in their home province. Stilwell, recently named parliamentary secretary to Health Minister Michael de Jong, wrote a report on the subject in December called “Action Plan for Repatriating B.C. Medical Students Studying Abroad.” In it, she argued that British Columbians studying medicine outside North America have a tough time returning home to work.“The primary challenge they face is in regard to accessing residency positions in B.C.,” Stilwell wrote. What she didn’t state in her report: the fact that her son is one of those students.

When asked about her personal stake in the issue, Stilwell was undeterred.“It’s not about one person, it’s about thousands of Canadian kids abroad,” she told the online newsmagazine The Tyee last week. Health Minister de Jong, meanwhile, told the B.C. news website that he was unaware Stilwell has a son attending med school in Ireland.

As it stands now, residency positions are only open to graduates of North American programs, which share the same accreditation process. Those studying outside the continent must pass exams before they can apply for Canadian residencies. Stilwell’s report recommends that B.C. create 57 new residency positions before opening up the application process to B.C. students at medical schools outside North America.

That might not be the best idea, according to the Canadian Resident Matching Service. The organization prefers the status quo, pointing out that there’s wide variation in the quality of education at medical schools around the world, making it difficult to ensure international standards compare with those in Canada.