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Sault demonstrators demand action on doctor shortage

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Local unions and those who recently lost their primary health-care provider gathered in front of Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano’s office Friday to protest the ongoing doctor shortage.

They were joined by a group of internationally trained physicians who said they face barriers to practising medicine in Ontario, despite their credentials and willingness to help.

“Since this de-rostering of over 10,000 patients in our community, I think persons have really recognized that there is a group of doctors in the Sault who can really assist with the health care challenges,” said Aaron Smith, referencing the recent decision by Group Health Centre to de-roster patients.

Smith is a trained physician from Trinidad and Tobago. He is among 49 internationally trained medical professionals said to be living in Sault Ste. Marie. He said he is among the few who are working in a health-care setting.

“I was fortunate to get a job as a unit assistant, so I do clerical work,” Smith said.

“It’s what I was able to get. I’ve been doing it for almost 18 months, and … I have a family to support. I have a wife and young baby and a daughter.”

Michele McCleave-Kennedy, president of the Sault District Labour Council, said fast-tracking international doctors into the health-care system would help ease the crisis.

“We won’t be able to attract business and folks to our community to come and live here without doctors here and without other services,” McCleave-Kennedy said.

CTV News contacted MPP Ross Romano’s office for comment but did not hear back before deadline.

Upon receiving word that Romano was holding a meeting pertaining to health care at a local hotel, protestors relocated to that site.

They were denied entry.

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