THUNDER BAY- For years now, one of the major concerns of our citizens has been the shortage of doctors and nurses in Northwestern Ontario. Too many families do not have a family doctor or they have to drive for hours to access health services. We know that this shortage of service harms our quality of life.
To give you a national perspective, 20% of Canadians live in rural areas, while only 10 percent of Canada’s doctors practice there. In Thunder Bay, there are approximately 20,000 people who do not have a family doctor; in Greenstone, there is a need for 5 more doctors to properly service the community. Action is long overdue.
The federal Liberals are listening to your concerns. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff recently committed to a plan that would attract more doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners to underserved rural communities. A future Liberal government would forgive up to $20,000 of their student debt over four years, in partnership with the government of Ontario.
This initiative would help more than 1,500 new health professionals each year nationwide, and help ease medical services pressures in Northwestern Ontario. The program would provide a further incentive for graduates of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Lakehead University and Confederation College to stay in the communities where they have lived and trained.
I am proud that Mr. Ignatieff has also committed to work in partnership with the Province of Ontario to explore other ways to strengthen rural health services, including establishing supports for rural-focused medical and nursing education; encouraging young Canadians in rural communities to go to medical school or study nursing; strengthening rural medicine extension programs; and improving internet access for rural health practitioners.
Investing in rural doctors and nurses is only one of several proposals that are part of the Liberal ‘Rural Canada Matters’ platform. We believe in rural Canada.
In 2010, Michael Ignatieff presented Canadians with a clear choice: to tackle the Conservative deficit and invest in jobs and our people – including rural services. Liberals are committed to supporting Canadian families and delivering real change. We believe in a united Canada, where economic opportunity and a high standard of living don’t depend on where you live – which is why we’re making a real commitment to addressing the needs of all Canadians.
Yves Fricot is the federal Liberal candidate in Thunder Bay Superior North. He can be reached at his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/yvesfricot.liberal
NetNewsledger.com has an open door policy for registered candidates and elected officials who which to communicate with our readers. We publish their columns so that you can know what their views, vision and ideas are for the region.