Prince Edward Island government withdraws bill to streamline physician recruitment over rural health care concerns

Prince Edward Island Health Minister Ernie Hudson told the Legislature on Tuesday that a bill he says would make it easier to recruit doctors will not be debated this sitting.

Both opposition parties had repeatedly expressed concern that proposed changes to the Health Services Act would ultimately lead to greater centralization of health care delivery in the province and a shortage of doctors in rural areas.

Hudson had previously defended the proposed changes on several occasions, saying they would allow the province to hire doctors more quickly without negatively affecting rural health care.

« Will the bill be introduced this session or have you reconsidered and finally realized the harm it could cause to rural areas of Prince Edward Island? » Hudson was questioned during Question Period on Tuesday by Liberal MP Hal Perry.

“The bill will not be presented to the prosecution this session,” Hudson replied.

« We listen to concerns, we take those concerns into consideration. … We want to make sure that any legislation that comes forward will protect rural health care. »

Calls of concern from « the whole island »

The amendment would have removed provincial medical manpower, which stipulates how many positions there are in each region for family physicians and specialists.

It would also have eliminated the physician resource planning committee, which makes decisions about workforce changes.

Hudson told reporters he had received calls from “all over the island” of people expressing concerns about the change, “more so in rural areas…in regards to the elimination of the supplement.”

Prince Edward Island Minister of Health Ernie Hudson said Islanders have raised concerns with him about a bill to streamline the recruitment process for doctors, based on the impact they thought it might have on access in rural areas. (PEI Legislative Assembly)

Hudson said the bill would be reintroduced at the spring sitting with amendments and, in the meantime, explained that he could use his authority to issue ministerial orders as needed to try to expedite the process. hiring doctors.

Opposition MPs have said they would support measures to make it easier to hire doctors, but not at the expense of cutting the workforce, which many see as necessary to ensure there is medical posts in rural areas to serve their constituents.

Islanders deserve equal access to care, says MLA

« I was elected to represent my constituents and their needs and to advocate on their behalf, » Perry told reporters. He represents the district of Tignish-Palmer Road, at the western end of the island.

« All Islanders deserve equal access to quality, timely health care and I will stand up anytime and defend my district. »

Green MP Michele Beaton said one of her problems with the bill is that the government has never explained its broader plan for doctor staffing once staffing is complete and the medical planning committee medical staff was a thing of the past.

« I’m not convinced that just because all the other provinces don’t have a top-up system, Prince Edward Island should follow suit, » she said.

Health PEI CEO Dr. Michael Gardam on the podium at the Health PEI AGM.
Health PEI CEO Dr. Michael Gardam says the decision to withdraw a bill from the Legislative Assembly was based on a « campaign of political misinformation. » (Radio Canada)

Beaton said she hoped Hudson would call the bill up for debate « so we can have this discussion, so the public understands exactly what he was going to accomplish. »

Decision based on ‘political misinformation’, says CEO

Health PEI CEO Dr. Michael Gardam, who had advocated the changes as a way to eliminate red tape in the physician hiring process, called the news the bill’s withdrawal of « disappointing » in a statement to CBC.

« This will continue to make it harder for Prince Edward Island to hire doctors compared to anywhere else in Canada, » he said.

Gardam said rural doctors are already able to move to Charlottetown or Summerside because there are vacancies they could fill.

« It’s disappointing that a campaign of political disinformation and, frankly, scare campaigns on this issue has allowed the bureaucracy to continue to exist for the time being. »


Back to top button