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Layton vows to hire and train more family doctors

NDP Leader Jack Layton makes a campaign stop in Montreal on March 31, 2011.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Jack Layton is appealing to the many Canadians who have been unable to find a family doctor.

The NDP Leader arrived at Laurentian University in this nickel city Friday to pledge that a government led by him would invest in the training of more health-care professionals.

"Across the country, five million Canadians can't find a family doctor. Some drive hours away from home to see theirs," said Mr. Layton.

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The NDP says it would work with the provinces and territories to hire 1,200 doctors and to train thousands of nurses over the next 10 years.

This is the commitment Mr. Layton tried to wrest from the Conservative government in the lead up to the last budget.

The Conservatives instead offered a student-loan refund to entice a couple hundred young doctors and nurses to relocate across Canada.

Mr. Layton says he would establish a fund to lure 300 Canadian doctors currently working abroad to come home.

He would also streamline the process of credential recognition for foreign-trained doctors, a promise made by other governments in the past with limited success.

In addition, the NDP would invest $80-million to upgrade medical schools, support doctors in remote areas, and forgive student loans for medical professionals who practice family medicine for at least 10 years.

Sudbury, like most cities in Northern Ontario, has it's own problem with access to health care. It also has a medical school.

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The riding is currently held by New Democrat Glenn Thibeault, who is believed to be in a tight-three way race with his Liberal and Conservative opponents.

The Liberals held Sudbury before Mr. Thibeault defeated former cabinet minister Diane Marleau in 2008.

Mr. Thibeault's supporters say he has a healthy lead on his opponents.

They also say issues like the long-gun registry that could boost support for the Conservatives in neighbouring ridings like Nickle Belt, which is also held by a New Democrat, will not affect Mr. Thibault in urban Subury.

But Mr. Layton wants to shore his support in this region and is expected to travel to Northern Ontario more than once during this campaign.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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