Want to work in Tumbler Ridge? You’re Forgiven.

Trent Ernst, Editor

The benefits for doctors (and now even nurses) wanting to work in Tumbler Ridge are just piling on.

Last month, the BC government announced a $100,000 signing bonus for doctors willing to work here and in couple dozen other rural communities across the province.

Now, the Canadian Government has announced that family doctors and nurses working in rural communities can now apply for Canada Student Loan forgiveness.

“By offering Canada Student Loan forgiveness, we’re doing our part to encourage health care professionals to serve Canadians in rural and remote communities where they are needed to improve access to primary care,” said Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. “This initiative is part of our Government’s commitment to strengthen health care for all Canadians.”

Student loan forgiveness is available for up to five years for work in designated communities, which are communities with an urban core population of less than 50 000, outside of provincial capitals. Employment must have started on or after July 1, 2011. This initiative applies to the federal portion of Canada Student Loans.

Nurses and nurse practitioners could receive up to $4,000 per year in Canada Student Loan forgiveness, to a maximum of $20,000 over five years. Family doctors and residents in family medicine could receive up to $8,000 per year, to a maximum of $40,000 over five years.

To apply for loan forgiveness, family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners must have been employed (whether full-time, part-time or casual) for 12 months in a designated rural or remote community and have provided in-person services for a minimum of 400 hours in that community. Residents in family medicine must have provided a minimum of 400 hours, or 50 days, of in-person service to be eligible.

The Harper Government’s loan forgiveness program for family doctors and nurses only applies to the federal portion of outstanding Canada Student Loan debt. It does not apply to provincial or territorial student loans. Some provinces also have loan forgiveness program.