Pallister Government’s Cuts to Doctor Recruitment Program Will Hurt Rural and Northern Families

deserve, NDP MLAs Amanda Lathlin and Tom Lindsey said today.

“Families in the North and in rural areas need to know they and their children will be able to see a doctor in their own community when illness or accidents happen,” said Lathlin, the MLA for The Pas. “But now, the Pallister government has eliminated a grant program and tax rebates that helped attract doctors to rural and northern Manitoba.”

The grant program was established by the former NDP government in 2001 and helped medical students pay off their tuition fees if they practised in Manitoba after graduation. In the 2015/16 school year, 217 students across Manitoba received a total of $4 million in conditional grants, said Lindsey, the MLA for Fllin Flon.

In addition, the tuition fee income tax rebate provided up to $25,000 to students committed to working in Manitoba, Lindsey pointed out. Most rural areas across Canada struggle to attract and retain doctors and these programs helped Manitoba communities find new doctors, Lindsey added.

“We were committed to improving health care in the North and in rural areas but the Pallister government seems more focused on cutting services than to maintaining high-quality care for families,” Lindsey said. “This latest cut comes on the heels of an order to the Northern Health Authority from the health minister to cut $6 million from its budget. That’s a huge blow to frontline services.”

Lathlin noted the Pallister government also cancelled construction of a new health clinic in The Pas; has made cuts to the Northern Patient Transportation Program and will no longer fund non-insured services, which provide mental health and addictions support in the North.

“When you add it all up, these are serious cuts to frontline health services and we call on the Pallister government to reverse course for the sake of northern families,” Lathlin said. “Brian Pallister promised to preserve frontline services but he is breaking that promise and families will be hurt by it.”