Liberal MLA Robert Henderson said he wants to know why the health minister isn't doing more to reduce the wait-list for a family doctor on P.E.I.
In the legislature Wednesday, Henderson said the number of doctors being licensed in Canada is on the rise. But on P.E.I., there are still thousands waiting for a family doctor.
"We're just watching the patient registry, it's like a ticker it just keeps going up and up and up," Henderson said.
"So why is the minister of health struggling to recruit doctors?"
The province recently contracted the Medical Society of P.E.I. to begin recruiting more physicians.
The plan is to pay P.E.I. doctors to recruit other doctors to come practise on the Island, and it was negotiated over the last several months.
The Health Department and doctors will form a physician recruitment task force. Doctors will consult with the government's existing recruitment team to come up with a marketing strategy, and create a "more efficient and positive" experience for doctors considering moving to P.E.I.
P.E.I., like many jurisdictions in Canada, has been experiencing a shortage of doctors and other health-care professionals, and there is currently a waiting list of 14,530 patients on the patient registry seeking a family doctor on P.E.I., according to the province's website.
"Islanders without access to a family physician, per capita it's actually the worst record in Atlantic Canada. Even this doctors-recruiting-doctors initiative will need to recruit a doctor to recruit other doctors, which takes a doctor away from providing health-care services to Islanders," Henderson said.
"When will Islanders expect to see the patient registry begin to decline?"
Minister hopes to announce more doctors soon
Health Minister James Aylward said the wait-list does fluctuate, and the province is trying to improve the situation.
"It is a challenge to recruit doctors here on P.E.I., but you know we made a great announcement the other day for Tignish, which was lacking a family doctor for far too long," Aylward said.
Last week, the heath minister announced Dr. Peter Entwistle will begin his practice at the Tignish Health Centre in February.
He said the province also has letters of offer out to four other doctors that it's waiting to be signed and sent back.
Aylward said government has also introduced other initiatives to help provide care to Islanders.
"We've done the virtual program with Maple, it has capacity for 10,000 patients to be connected to that service and so far the individuals that have accessed that service have had glowing, glowing reports," Aylward said.
Aylward said the province still wants Islanders to have access to a doctor in person. He hopes to be able to announce some new doctors coming to the Island in the near future.
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