With too much bureaucracy and too few residency spots, Canada is getting a global reputation as a hard place for physicians to work.

It’s shortly after 10 a.m. inside an exhibition hall on the stately grounds of the Royal Dublin Society and hundreds of doctors, nurses and health care workers are filing into the building. Many of them will walk out with a job offer in hand.

The global competition for physicians and other health workers is laid bare at medical job fairs like this one in Dublin, where recruiters from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador recently came to help fill gaps in their health care systems. The provinces set up booths alongside recruiters from the Middle East, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. Even the Cunard cruise line was there trying to hire more doctors.

Nearly every exhibitor offered lucrative perks such as signing bonuses, relocation allowances and housing benefits along with help with immigration. Recruiters from the small Canadian provinces say with so many countries fighting over the same health care workers, it’s critical they make their pitch at international events like this.

“There’s a heightened awareness of the importance of international recruitment given the labour shortage we’re seeing in Canada. This kind of exposure is so important, having a presence here is so important,” said Rebecca Gill, PEI’s director of health recruitment and retention, who was at the Dublin event.

“People need to know we’re an option. They’re willing to travel for work, but many don’t even know where PEI is. And that’s why we have a map.”

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