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PEI new health care workers need could be more than 250 a year, says the government report

A report on human resource needs for PEI’s health-care system outlines a need for thousands of new workers over the next 10 years.

Provincial Clinical and Preventive Services Planning for Prince Edward Islandknown as the Peachey report, commissioned by the provincial government, is the first comprehensive look at human resource needs since 2010, Health Minister Mark McLane told the legislature Tuesday.

HealthPEICEODr. Michael Gardam recommended the government to produce the report.

“We haven’t had data like that since I’ve been here, and what it does is it really maps out in quite elaborate detail … what exactly we need — and it’s staggering,” Gardam said.

“We have to hire a ton of people. That’s my summary of that report.”

We have to hire tons of people. That’s my summary of that report.-Dr. Michael Gardam, Health PEI CEO

The report does not include the needs of the new medical school at UPEI, Gardam said.

While the baseline scenario in the report calls for just over 2,000 new health-care hires in the province in the next decade, the province’s current population growth means hundreds more will likely be needed.

Population projections are outdated

The study was commissioned at the end of 2021, and it uses population projections that are now two years out of date.

The base-growth scenario pegs the population of PEI at 191,300, and the high-growth at 198,800 in 2031/32. The current base forecast from the province is 202,526 in that year.

The difference in need between base- and high-growth scenarios is about 400 full-time equivalent workers, with a need for almost 1,200 in the high-growth scenario. That’s up from the current number of just over 3,000.

In addition to creating new positions, the province will have to replace those who retire or leave. That’s estimated at about 1,270, making for a total of almost 2,500 new hires in the next decade.

Among the new positions created in the high-growth scenario would be:

  • More than 500 nurses, including RNs, NPs, and LPNs.
  • Nearly 200 doctors, including about 60 in family practice.
  • About 500 professionals from allied professions, such as physiotherapists, pharmacists, resident care workers, dieteticians, and psychologists.

During the question period Tuesday, Green MLA Karla Bernard expressed doubts that, given current recruitment difficulties, the provincial government is up to the challenge.

The minister asked about medical homes

“This government has promised to open 30 medical homes across the province by 2024,” said Bernard.

“Simply assigning Islanders to an empty building does nothing to improve their access to health care.”

McLane respondents the medical homes, as they open, will give the province an advantage in recruiting at the national level. Medical homes bring together different health care professionals — doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and others — who work together to provide patient care.

“This is the kind of collaborative environment that they’re trained in at medical schools,” said McLane.

“That will give us an advantage going forward as we recruit professionals because this is the model of care they want.”

Bernard said the Green Party supports the idea behind the medical homes, pointing out collaborative practices were part of the party’s 2019 election platform.

The Peachey report is dated Feb. 25, but was just released to the public Tuesday.

McLane said it was a big document, and the government needed some time to digest it.