Province offers to cover tutition fees for medical students

It sounds like a great deal for medical students in Manitoba.

The province is offering to cover the full cost of tuition fees as long as students practice in areas where doctors are needed the most.

"We believe this will allow us to retain more family physicians and more specialists , " Premier Greg Selinger , told a crowd of medical professionals at the University of Manitoba Thursday morning.

"It will allow us to accomplish our goal of making these very important health care professionals available to all Manitobans , " said Selinger.

Beginning next fall , all medical students in Manitoba will be offered grants of $ 12 ,000 dollars in each of their four years of school.

Each grant will require a six-month commitment to work in under-serviced areas , whether it’s the inner city or rural communities.

The deal will cost taxpayers around $ 1.72 million annually based on the estimated uptake.

Students will still be eligible for the Manitoba tuition-tax rebate.

But some say more needs to be done to retain "specialists" in the province.

"You can’t do everything in Manitoba , " said Konstantine Jilkine, a second – year medical student.

"For example if someone wanted to do pediatrics, they could do it in Manitoba but from my understanding the program in Toronto will give you a better education , " said Jilkine.

Aboriginal leaders in Manitoba say the need for doctors is greatest in remote northern communities.

A flu outbreak in Garden Hill First Nation has already killed two and sickened 20 people.

MKO Grand Chief David Harper says wants a say in where the new doctors are dispatched.

"It’s our people that are suffering , " said Harper.

"There’s no such thing as a family doctor in remote communities , " he said.

A committee made up of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Regional Health authorities, and Federal and Provincial governments will meet next month to determine where doctors are needed most.

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