Portrayals of Global Health Worker Migration in Canadian Print News Media: Domestic Concerns vs. Global Awareness

  • Jen PylypaEmail author


The global migration of physicians and nurses has implications for health human resources in both source and recipient countries. Of particular concern to academics and policy experts is the “brain drain” of health professionals from under-resourced nations to developed countries, which promote immigration of physicians and nurses to solve their own health worker shortages. How does the general public in these destination countries understand and respond to concerns over migration and immigration of health professionals? This understanding is likely to be influenced in large part by how the issues are portrayed in the news media. News media treatment of this issue was explored by surveying news articles; newspaper columns/editorials; and op-ed pieces; and letters to the editor published in four prominent Canadian newspapers between May 2004 and January 2009, a time frame that included two federal elections in which physician immigration was highlighted as a political issue. Despite the prominence among academics of concern over the brain drain of physicians and nurses from developing countries to Canada and other Western nations, this issue received little attention in print news media discussions, which focused on domestic physician shortages and the role of international medical graduates in filling Canadian needs. While recent federal elections brought concerns about immigrant physicians into the political spotlight in Canada, they did so by focusing on Canadians' health care provision needs to the exclusion of promoting a broader, global awareness that the immigration of health professionals to developed nations such as Canada exacerbates global health disparities.


Immigration Physicians Health workers Brain drain Media Canada 



Thanks to Aaron Doyle for his input into the conceptualization and writing of this article. Funding to support the literature review for this research was provided through Carleton University by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Institutional Grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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