Sep 272011

If elected, a Freedom government will end Ontario’s 18-year
limitation on the number of physicians; students encouraged to write MCAT

September 27, 2011 Toronto – University students or graduates may find their chances of being accepted to medical school doubling, starting with admissions to the 2013 first year class. That is just one of the implications of Freedom Party’s proposal to restore to Ontarians the health care choices they had before 1969, when the Progressive Conservatives banned private payment options and established a government health care monopoly.

“Since 1993, Ontario’s provincial NDP, PC, and Liberal governments have tried to contain ballooning health care costs by limiting the number of physicians in Ontario. In other words, they have tried to ration health care by limiting the number of health care providers. What we now call the doctor shortage was and is intentional. The provincial NDP, PC, and Liberal parties continue to support doctor limits to this very day.”

Through conditional funding arrangements with Ontario’s medical schools, NDP, PC, and Liberal governments have limited the number of medical school students so as to limit growth in the number of Ontario-trained physicians. At the same time, tall barriers have been put in the way of foreign-trained physicians, so that they cannot significantly increase the number of physicians available to serve Ontario’s sick and injured. In short, the government has tried to contain costs by rationing health care services. The result has been long waiting lines of sick and injured; delaying diagnostic measures so as to remain wilfully blind of the need immediately to provide expensive health care services; and focussing on keeping the healthy well, which is of no help to those who are already sick or injured.

“A Freedom government will eliminate the Progressive Conservatives’ 1969 ban on alternatives to OHIP”, says McKeever. “Those who want to have OHIP coverage will continue to have that option. It will continue to be illegal for OHIP to deny anyone coverage at the same affordable cost as everyone else. However, those who want to pay for a plan offered by the private sector – for example, a low-cost plan that covers only very serious injuries or illnesses – will be free to buy that plan instead. Those who choose not to have any coverage will be free to pay for health care services as and when they receive them.

“With multiple payors, limiting the number of medical mouths to feed will no longer be necessary or desirable. Physicians will be free to accept payments from all payors, public and private. As the number of physicians is increased, the increased supply of physicians will drive down prices where many physicians are competing for patients. Competition will also encourage physicians to seek-out patients in currently under-serviced parts of the province.

“At present, medical schools are paid directly by the province. Increasing the number of students does not increase the amount paid by the province, so there is little incentive for medical schools to increase their enrolments. In effect, the province thereby caps the number of physicians. A Freedom government will tie already-existing provincial payments to students on a per-student basis, not to schools. Medical schools seeking to obtain the same amount of money from the government will have to double their current enrolment.

“A portion of the per-student money will be allocated to the student’s tuition, in the form of a conditional grant. It takes approximately 7 years to train a physician in this province. Accordingly, new physicians will have to serve Ontario patients for at least seven years before moving to another jurisdiction. For those who do not serve patients in Ontario for at least seven years, the grant portion of the per-student amount will become a debt owing by the physician, repayable in full.

“My take-home message for university students: if a Freedom government is elected, your chances of becoming a doctor will be doubled, so write the MCAT this year and apply to begin medical school in 2013. My take-home message for Ontarians: if elected, a Freedom government will ensure that access to timely and affordable health care will be greatly improved.”

For further details, contact:
Paul McKeever, Leader – Freedom Party of Ontario