Ontario's medical students and residents call for equal access to medical school



    TORONTO, April 20 /CNW/ - Medical students and residents from across the
province are gathering at Queen's Park today looking to open doors for future
students interested in studying and practising medicine in Ontario.
    The students and residents are pleased that the provincial government has
moved forward with a recruitment and retention initiative with the
introduction of an interest relief program included in last October's
Physicians Services agreement. The program will allow medical residents to
defer payments on the principal of eligible debts during training in exchange
for at least five years of service in Ontario; however, access to medical
school is still an issue.
    "There are many bright and energetic students in Ontario who have thought
about going to medical school, but when they crunch the numbers, the debt
outweighs the benefits," said Nicole Hawkins, Co-chair of the OMA's Section on
Medical Students. "Regulating tuition and increasing the amount of OSAP
medical students are eligible to receive will provide hundreds of students who
didn't think they could afford it, a real opportunity to consider a career in
medicine."
    The Ontario Medical Student Association (OMSA), a section of the Ontario
Medical Association (OMA), and the Professional Association of Internes and
Residents of Ontario (PAIRO) are calling on the provincial government to:

    
    a)  Re-regulate tuition to help curb the sky rocketing price tag of
        medical school so that medical school accessibility is ensured for
        all qualified students; and
    b)  Increase Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans so that loan
        allocations are equal to the average tuition at the 6 medical schools
        in Ontario ($16,303).
    

    Medical education has become financially challenging for many eligible
students. Since tuition was deregulated in 1997, the average cost of medical
school has more than tripled from $5,000 to over $16,000 in Ontario and is the
highest in the country.
    In addition, the 2007 National Physicians' Survey (NPS) found that,
financial debt was identified as a major contributor to the stress experienced
during residency training. Specifically, the survey found that 20.6% of
students report debt of more than $100,000, compared to only 6.9% in 2004. The
NPS also found that increased tuition levels have resulted in a drop in the
number of students from rural and small communities, as well as those from
lower income families.
    "Medical students and residents often return to practise in their
hometowns, so it's vital that students from communities across the province
have an equal opportunity to study medicine," said Andrew Vellathottham,
Co-chair of the OMA's Section on Medical Students. "Ontario is made up of many
diverse communities, so it's important that the medical student demographic
reflects that."





For further information:

For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or
toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862


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