Deputy prime minister brings $19.5M for UPEI medical school

The medical school will change people's lives, says Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)
The medical school will change people's lives, says Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was in Charlottetown Thursday, with an announcement of federal funding for UPEI's medical school.

Ottawa will contribute $19.5 million from its infrastructure budget for the school. The most recent estimated infrastructure cost for the school, including building and equipment, is $122.7 million.

"This is going to be a generational project. It's going to change the lives of a lot of families," said Freeland.

"This is what P.E.I. needs, and I think everyone here understands the real benefit is going to be for our children, and even our grandchildren."

Kirk Pennell/CBC
Kirk Pennell/CBC

Operating costs for the school are estimated at $11 million a year for the first six years.

The establishment of the school, in partnership with Memorial University in St. John's, was announced in the fall of 2021. It was originally slated to open this coming fall. Last month that opening was pushed back for a second time, to the fall of 2025.

'Taking a little bit of control'

The delayed opening is not the only adversity the school has faced.

Kirk Pennel/CBC
Kirk Pennel/CBC

The CEO of Health P.E.I., the province's health-care system administrator, has expressed concern about the system's ability to support the school. The Medical Society of P.E.I. has echoed that concern, saying plans need to be made to ensure the health-care system can support both the school and patients.

Premier Dennis King, in his remarks, made reference to some of the difficulties establishing the school will present.

"This is very much an investment in our future. It's taking a little bit of control of our own destiny in terms of how we teach and how we learn, and where we teach and where we learn, that will pay off dividends into the future," said King.

"I know there are many challenges along the way, some we know now, some we will encounter. This is a courageous thing to do, it is the right thing to do."

The medical school will also house a medical home — a collaborative practice that will serve as a primary health-care provider for 10,000 Islanders.

The new five-storey, 130,000 square-foot building will include training facilities for other medical professionals as well: nurses, nurse practitioners, and paramedics.