The Saudi Arabian government’s pending threat of withdrawing Saudi medical residents (doctors undergoing specialty training after obtaining their MD) and fellows (those undertaking further training in a sub-specialty) is causing great consternation in Canadian university hospitals. There are between 750 and 1,000 Saudi trainees distributed among almost every medical faculty in Canada. Having known, taught and worked with many Saudi doctors, I have great personal sympathy for them if this abrupt withdrawal takes place. However, the truths behind this training arrangement are very disquieting. The current spat between Canada and Saudi Arabia provides the opportunity for a long overdue reappraisal by our medical schools and health-care planners. These trainees are funded by their governments, hospitals and (at least in the past) oil companies. In addition, the Canadian faculties of medicine and their parent universities receive a generous stipend. This is irresistible for cash-strapped institutions, but is detrimental to training doctors for Canada’s own needs. The shortage of Canadian doctors is well-established. Every Saudi trainee takes the place of a Canadian who would live and work here. ...By contrast, the University of Toronto has trained more than 1,000 Saudi specialists in 40 years, and adding those in other Canadian faculties, that number is probably four times larger. In four decades, it would appear that the Saudis have not developed their own specialty and sub-specialty programs. While I cannot comment further on that, my cynical conclusion is that the continued influx of Saudi trainees to Canadian medical schools is due to two dishonourable reasons here: money, and free extra pairs of hands to help in the day-to-day running of university teaching hospitals. Stewart: Saudi Arabian medical trainees in Canada mask a problem we should correct This is a very interesting opinion piece.