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Physician Recruitment Programs at Risk says Wilson

(September 17, 2009) Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson urged the McGuinty Liberals to cancel their plans to make changes to the Underserviced Area and Return of Service programs that help attract doctors to underserviced communities.  Wilson introduced a petition against the changes today and also made the following statement in the Ontario Legislature:

Mr. Jim Wilson (Simcoe-Grey): I rise to bring to the attention of this House a very serious issue concerning the government's proposed changes to underserviced areas and return-of-service programs.

These are programs that help our communities attract doctors, and now the McGuinty government wants to take that away through proposals that will cause communities in my riding and across Ontario to lose the only source of government funding that directly supports physician recruitment.

The government's proposals will pit north against south and rural against urban, and they will severely hamper doctor recruitment in most of the province.  What the government is proposing is a plan that would use what they call a rurality index to determine whether a community can access physician recruitment funding. The McGuinty government wants us to believe that this new formula will somehow improve the situation while completely ignoring a community's need for doctors.

In my riding, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care acknowledges that New Tecumseth, Essa and Adjala-Tosorontio have a shortage of 11 doctors, and yet the government wants to take away every single tool that these communities have to attract new doctors to the area. The situation is no different in Clearview, Wasaga Beach, Springwater, Collingwood and throughout much of Ontario.

To quote Gary Ryan, the president of Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston, in a letter he sent to the minister, he says that doctors "may well go to other provinces or the USA. This would create a further loss of physicians in Ontario."

The proposed changes to the underserviced area and return-of-service programs do nothing to help the one million Ontarians without a family doctor, and the government should stop meddling with these programs.

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