Ont. Med Students and Residents Call for Programs Available in Other Provinces

    Ontario falling behind several other provinces in Canada that have
    implemented interest deferral plans to ensure medical school

    TORONTO, April 23 /CNW/ - The Ontario Medical Association (OMA), Ontario
Medical Student Association (OMSA) and the Professional Association of
Internes and Residents of Ontario (PAIRO) are calling on the provincial
government to help new doctors in Ontario by deferring payment and interest
accrual on student loans until after residency training is completed.
    "Deferring interest would help ease the burden of student debts and allow
medical residents to focus on their training," said Dr. Kris Lehnhardt,
President of PAIRO. "Other provinces across the country have already taken
this step. We need to make sure that Ontario remains competitive by relieving
this added financial burden."
    Deferral of interest on medical student loans until after residency
training has already been implemented in Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, Quebec
and most recently, Alberta.
    "The average medical resident carries a debt of over $150,000 and
resident salaries have not increased alongside the rise in medical school
tuition. In order to cope with this, medical students are choosing higher
paying specialties over family medicine," said Tyler Christie, Chair of OMA
Medical Student Association. "A debt deferral initiative would make family
medicine more attractive and allow residents to concentrate fully on their
patients instead of worrying about their debts."
    The OMA, OMSA and PAIRO believe that the high cost of tuition for medical
school and the sizeable debt loads students face act as barriers for bright
and qualified students from lower income families. The 2004 National Physician
Survey found that rising tuition has decreased the number of students who come
from lower income backgrounds, thus limiting the access of qualified Canadians
to become doctors. According to the OMA and PAIRO a debt deferral plan would
be a step in the right direction to help diversify medical school candidates.
    In March 2007, the OMSA and PAIRO met with the Ministry of Training,
Colleges and Universities to illustrate the challenges that residents face,
given that half of their take-home pay is devoted to paying off debt. Today,
more than 50 medical students and residents took time from their studies to
advocate on behalf of the trainees in the six medical schools across Ontario.
    "Debt interest deferral in Ontario is important because it would allow us
to catch up to other provinces in this regard," said Dr. David Bach, President
of the OMA. "In addition, it will help address the fact that the cost of a
medical education should stay within reach of students from all socio-economic

For further information:

For further information: OMA media relations at (416) 340-2862

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