Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

Canada Student Loan forgiveness program expansion

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Good news from Budget 2024!

In the 2024 federal budget the government announced its intent to permanently expand the Canada Student Loan Forgiveness Program to include other health professionals working in rural and remote communities, including pharmacists. This is a big win for pharmacy! Huge thanks to everyone who participated in the campaign, and to CAPSI for their strong advocacy that helped make this a reality. Our partnership on the #PharmLoanForgive campaign resulted in hundreds of letters sent to elected officials calling for pharmacists to be included in the program expansion. And our voices were heard!

Pharmacy advocacy campaign

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Did you know? Despite the fact that pharmacy students pay the same or more in tuition fees than medical students, they are not eligible for federal loan forgiveness programs that support practice in rural and remote areas.

 

Join our advocacy campaign and encourage the federal government to expand this program to include pharmacists! On this page you’ll find:

Background information

The Government of Canada offers Canada Student Loan forgiveness to eligible health-care professionals to relocate or return to a rural or remote community. The program benefits are currently limited to physicians and nurses. Pharmacists are not eligible.

Although the current Liberal government previously committed to expanding the program to other health professionals, including pharmacists, this change has yet to be made. Ahead of the 2024 federal budget, we’re working with the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI) to press for the inclusion of pharmacy graduates to the Canada Student Loan forgiveness program.

Get involved

  • Write to your federal MP: Use the templates and tools below to send a letter to your federal MP urging them to support the expansion of this program in the 2024 Budget.
    • Find My MP: Enter your postal code in this online tool to find your MP and riding. Click the “Contact” tab to access your MP’s email or mailing address. (Mail can be sent postage-free to any MP at the House of Commons.)
    • Pharmacy student letter template: Pharmacy students can download our student template and enter your own information, or personalize it with specific information about your situation, your experiences or your riding.
    • Pharmacist letter template: Pharmacists can download and modify this pharmacist template to share your experiences and how expanding this program could affect your practice and your community.
  • Meet with your federal MP: Offer to meet with your federal MP to discuss this issue in more detail. Be ready and willing to share your experiences and talk about why this program will make a difference for you, for the profession and especially for Canadians who live in underserved, rural and remote communities. You can use our key messages found below and our Student Loan Forgiveness Expansion deck in your conversations. Feel free to reach out to CPhA (advocacy@pharmacists.ca) and/or CAPSI (vppa@capsi.ca) if you would like additional support.
  • Share the campaign: Tell your friends, your colleagues, your mom and dad about this issue! Getting the word out to as many MPs as possible is the best way to raise awareness across the country and get decision makers talking about it.
    • Use the hashtag #PharmLoanForgive on your social media channels. Check out our sample social posts below if you need some suggestions on how to get started!

Key messages

State the ask:

  • Pharmacists should be included in the Canada Student Loan forgiveness program, as promised in the 2021 Liberal Party Platform and in Budget 2022.
  • The program should provide pharmacists with the same level of student loan forgiveness eligibility as physicians, given the comparable tuition costs for pharmacists and physicians.

Highlight the access challenges in rural and remote communities:

  • Over 6 million Canadians, including Indigenous communities, face significant health challenges due to inadequate health-care services in rural and remote areas.
  • The challenges to recruit and retain pharmacy professionals in these areas are significant.
  • The Canada Student Loan forgiveness program currently incentivizes physicians and nurses to practice in these areas but the program doesn’t extend to pharmacists. Support through student loan forgiveness is vital to support the recruitment and retention of pharmacy professionals to these underserved regions.

Emphasize the role of pharmacists in rural health care and potential impact:

  • In many rural and remote communities, pharmacies are often the only accessible health-care facilities. Our patients depend on us for their health needs.
  • The opportunity to influence primary care services in underserved communities, particularly in remote Indigenous communities, is a key driver for many pharmacy graduates to move to rural and remote areas.
  • Many pharmacists in rural areas invest in their communities by owning and operating local pharmacies. Reducing the burden of student debt would enable pharmacists to invest in their careers and communities earlier, leading to stronger and more equitable health-care services in these regions.

Address the gap in the program by providing debt comparisons:

  • The current Canada Student Loan forgiveness program, while beneficial, overlooks the crucial role of pharmacists in the health-care system.
  • The cost of education for pharmacists is comparable to, and sometimes exceeds, that of medical school. Given this significant financial investment and the critical role pharmacists play in health care, it is only just that they receive the same level of student loan forgiveness as physicians.

Debt load comparison

University PharmD Tuition (Annually) MD Tuition (Annually)
University of British Columbia $19,929.84 $20,395.31
University of Alberta $17,131.52 $15,565.92
University of Saskatchewan $19,895.00 $20,246.00
University of Manitoba $15,811.54 $11,395.70
University of Waterloo $25,545.00 N/A
University of Toronto $18,060.00 $23,090.00
Dalhousie University $18,288.00 $24,093.00
Memorial University of Newfoundland $13,328.00 $14,250.00
 

Sample social media posts

  • Post 1 (for pharmacists/students to share): Calling all pharmacists and pharmacy students! Did you know that the Canada Student Loan forgiveness program doesn't include pharmacists? It's time for change! Join me in advocating for #PharmLoanForgive for fair access to debt relief for pharmacists nationwide.
  • Post 2 (tagging MPs for awareness): Dear [@MP's Handle], as a pharmacist/student in your constituency, I'm advocating for the inclusion of pharmacists in the Canada Student Loan forgiveness program to improve access to care in rural and remote communities. Please consider supporting #PharmLoanForgive!
  • Post 3 (highlighting importance to health care): Health care relies on dedicated professionals like pharmacists. Yet, many face significant student loan debt. I'm supporting #PharmLoanForgive to expand loan forgiveness and encourage pharmacists to practice in rural and remote areas. Let's ensure equitable support!
  • Post 4 (empowering change): Every voice matters! I'm advocating for # PharmLoanForgive to expand opps for pharmacists in rural and remote areas. Let's make education more accessible and support the future of pharmacy. Join me in urging policymakers to include pharmacists in loan forgiveness initiatives!
  • Post 5 (encouraging support and action): Are you a pharmacist or pharmacy student concerned about student loan debt? Have you ever considered working in a rural community? I'm taking action by advocating for #PharmLoanForgive. Let's make our voices heard. Together, we can create positive change! #StudentDebtRelief