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UPDATE: Adding more medical school positions in Ontario 'welcome news' for Ontario Medical Association

While this is welcome news for the future of medicine in Ontario, the province still needs to deal with the shortage it is experiencing now, the Ontario Medical Association said.

Ontario has has a problem not only training physicians, but keeping them — and this is a problem the province has dealt with for years, according to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). 

So, hearing the province's plan to add hundreds of positions to medical schools over the next five years was "welcome news" for Dr. Adam Kassam, president of OMA. 

Speaking to Cormac McSweeney on The Sam Laprade Show on Wednesday, March 16, Kassam said it's a move that will help Ontario's doctor shortage, and put a significan dent in addressing the problem in years to come. 

“It will take anywhere between five and eight years for a physician to go medical school and training in order to be fully licensed once they take their board examinations," he explained. 

While that's great for setting up the profession's future, the shortage has to be dealt with now, Kassam stressed.

“Right now what we need to do immediately is to shore up what we have as health resources. We need to provide the adequate funding, the resources and the support to ensure that physicians and other healthcare workers don’t leave the profession, or retire early."

Kassam added that there's also been an escalation of burnout among doctors and healthcare workers as a result of the pandemic — and that, too, needs to be addressed.

The province says it will add 160 seats to undergraduate programs and 295 postgraduate positions.

Premier Doug Ford says the province aims to build a more resilient health system and training the next generation of doctors is part of that. 

Program expansions will include the six medical schools in Ontario.

Seats will also be allocated for the new Ryerson University School of Medicine in Brampton, Ont., which the university says is aiming to start accepting students in 2025. 

The province says the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Academy of Medicine and Integrated Health will also receive funds for enrolment in life sciences and physical therapy programs. 

The University of Ottawa will also be among the medical schools to benefit from the announcement. 

According to the university's website, the faculty of medicine's received over 4,800 applications for the undergraduate medical education program in 2021. 

Only 165 students were admitted (the average enrollement hovering around 166, the university said).

- With files from The Canadian Press

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