Student Loan Forgiveness for Family Doctors and Nurses in Rural Communities

Improving health care services in our rural communities has been a priority for our Government. To improve services, we need to attract doctors and nurses to come work outside of large urban areas.

Economic Action Plan 2011 and 2012, committed $ 9 million a year to forgive a portion of Canada Student Loans for family doctors, residents in family medicine, nurse practitioners and nurses who are willing to work in under-served rural or remote communities.

I’m proud to be able to tell you that our Government recently announced that starting in spring 2012, this commitment will be put into action.

This will not only alleviate the high cost of education and training for many Canadians in this field, but will also encourage more health care professionals to work in the communities that need them most.

The Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) offers financial assistance to full- and part-time students pursuing post-secondary education, in the form of loans, grants and repayment assistance. The CSLP delivers student financial assistance in partnership with most provinces and territories. Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut operate their own programs.

Under the CSLP, the following professions will be eligible for partial loan forgiveness:

• Family doctors • Family medical residents in training with an accredited medical school in Canada • Registered Nurses • Registered Psychiatric Nurses • Registered Practical Nurses • Licensed Practical Nurses • Nurse Practitioners

To apply for loan forgiveness, family doctors and nurses must have been employed (full-time, part-time or casual) for a full year (12 months) in a designated rural or remote community (or communities).

They must also have provided in-person services for a minimum of 400 hours (or 50 days) in that community. Eligibility for loan forgiveness will only be considered for employment starting on, or after, April 1, 2012. Those who began practicing in a designated community before this date will not be eligible.

Partial loan forgiveness for family doctors and nurses will only apply to outstanding Canada Student Loan debt; the federal student loan portion. It will not apply to provincial or territorial student loans.

We all use the healthcare system. Our families use it. Our friends use it. We want to see a strong, sustainable health system that provides all Canadians with timely access to the best health care possible.

That is why our Government has increased health transfers to provinces more than any previous government in history. Our long-term, stable funding arrangement with the provinces will see transfers reach historic levels of $ 40 billion by the end of the decade.

We’ve also invested record amounts in research, including $ 35 million for community-based primary healthcare to help the provinces and territories reduce costs and deliver better healthcare from coast to coast to coast.

Unlike the previous Liberal Government which gutted health care funding, our record clearly shows that we are committed to ensuring that our publicly funded, universally accessible health care system is preserved so it is there when Canadians need it, no matter what part of Canada they call home.

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