Support for informal caregivers and research money were small but positive steps taken to enhance the Canadian healthcare system in the 2011 budget, but much remains to be done to affect systematic change.

Access to care it a huge issue for Canadians—especially those in remote areas. Providing student loan relief for doctors and nurses who choose to work in rural and remote areas was a good idea in principle but, how it will play out in practice, if the budget gets passed, will be another story.

Jeffrey Turnbull, president of the Canadian Medical Association says, “It’s a good start, but recognizing those students that have loans, they are well in excess of $40,000. Our concern is that this is a single effort in the context of a very significant problem of having enough [staff] in rural and remote settings. What we need is an over arching strategy.”

If doctors don’t have the support they need in these rural areas, it won’t help patients either. If a patient can’t get an appointment because the doctor is swamped or has to drive significant distances to fill a prescription, it’s not going to help much.

“It’s a partial step to an overarching problem,” says Turnbull. “What we wanted to see was a concerted overarching program for a transformed the healthcare system.”

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Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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