Medical students recommend tweak to loan forgiveness program

OTTAWA, Nov. 13, 2013 /CNW/ - The president of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students says  federal student loan forgiveness for family doctors and nurses willing to work in rural and remote communities is a step in the right direction.

Jesse Kancir made the comment today after Candice Bergen, minister of state for social development, announced in Winnipeg that close to 1150 family doctors and nurses have received Canada Student Loan forgiveness.

The minister said the response to the federal initiative, first announced in the 2012 budget, was good news for Canada, ``and especially residents in rural and remote communities.''

Kancir said it is not surprising there is significant uptake for the program given the debt load many medical students carry.

However, the Canadian Student Loan Program (CSLP) still requires medical residents to make payments on both the principal of the undergraduate loan and interest accrued during postgraduate residency training, he said.

Many residents consolidate their Canadian and provincial-territorial student loans into a private bank line of credit with a lower interest rate, or they take part in a provincial-territorial loan relief program during residency.

``These physicians would be ineligible for the new CSLP relief program,'' Kancir said. ``Consequently, the incentive to practice in a rural or remote community is diminished.''

Five provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Prince Edward Island — offer medical residents loan and interest relief on the provincial portion of the Canada student loan during residency training.

``It would make sense,'' Kancir said, ``to offer the same loan and interest relief on the federal portion of the Canada student loan for medical trainees. This would attract more primary care physicians to rural and remote areas by removing a barrier to the federal program.''

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is a national organization that represents over 7500 medical students at 14 medical schools across Canada.

SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS)

For further information:

Dominique Jolicoeur, Communications Officer
Canadian Medical Association
Tel.: 800-663-7336 / 613-731-8610 ext. 2038 Cell.: 613-809-5669


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