Ontario COVID-19 loans to be recouped from doctors

Ontario doctors have received loans from the province to cover increased costs during the COVID-19 pandemic and to offset lost income due to lower patient numbers. The repayment term is one year.

Ontario’s government said in a memo to the Ontario Medical Association on Friday that it plans to recoup the money. The state said it was “important” to collect more than $521 million in outstanding loan payments from its COVID-19 advance program to fund other priorities.

The ministry said the combination of low COVID-19 infection rates and high vaccine coverage across the state suggested the time was right for a “transition to post-pandemic conditions.” I added that there is.

“When we introduced this program, it was clear that these payments, like any loan, would have to be repaid,” the memo read.

“These funds are essential for critical priorities such as expanding access to team-based primary care, home care, mental health services, and reducing wait times for critical surgeries and procedures.”

The state launched its COVID-19 advance payment program in April 2020, offering doctors automatic monthly advance payments at a rate equal to 70% of average earnings.

Starting next month, the Ministry of Health will recoup the funds interest-free by deducting salaries from doctors’ monthly OHIP payments for a year, instead of the five-month schedule originally proposed.

“The ministry has conducted an analysis of the providers’ recent claims and is very confident in the ability of those still owed to repay outstanding loans,” the ministry said in a memo.

“However, if individual providers are concerned about their ability to repay their loans, the ministry stands ready to consider extending the recovery timeline to mitigate the financial impact.”

Physicians with questions about their individual circumstances and repayment schedules are encouraged to contact the Department’s Service Support Center.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones spokesperson Hannah Jensen said, “As Ontario and the rest of the province continue their post-pandemic transition, we are working to ensure that claims return to normal and the ability of those owed to repay outstanding loans. I am confident in,” he said. said in her emailed statement.

“The $521 million in funds collected will be used to improve access to more connected and convenient care by reducing wait times and expanding primary, home care and mental health services. It will be reinvested in the healthcare system.”

Loan repayments initially began in April 2021, and the department said it had recovered nearly $139 million out of a total of $660 million provided since then.

That same month, however, the loan recovery process was quickly halted as the third wave of the pandemic wreaked havoc on Ontario. After collecting the first installment, the state temporarily suspended deductions from doctors in May 2021 “until further notice.”

In a memo to doctors at the time, he said, “The resumption of repayment will depend on the situation of the pandemic.”

The Ontario Medical Association noted that some doctors had already voluntarily repaid upfront payments made under the program, citing “the government’s unwillingness to recoup upfront payments at the height of the pandemic.” I am grateful to you,” he said.

“OMA, in collaboration with the government, recognizes that doctors are working hard to make up for the pandemic’s backlog and that many of them are suffering from a high degree of burnout, and will continue to extend the five months originally planned. Instead, we spread the repayments over 12 months,” the association said. In a statement, spokeswoman Leslie Shepard said:

This report by the Canadian Press Agency was first published on July 15, 2023.

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