Health Minister Doug Currie is taking issue with the latest Canadian Institute for Health Information report, which shows P.E.I. offers the lowest average level of physician compensation in Canada.
“The report misrepresents the total number of actual front-line physicians in our complement,” Currie said.
In 2010/11, Prince Edward Island had 225.25 full-time physicians not 321 as CIHI reports, he said.
The 321 figure was the total number of physicians that worked in P.E.I. during that year.
Currie pointed out many of those doctors were not full-time physicians. Many were locums practicing for short periods of time.
“If you come in a month, you’re included in that data but that (leads to) inaccurate data with respect to the full-time compensation rates that we pay our physicians,” Currie said.
“Our physician compensation level is actually one of the highest in Canada.”
An official with CIHI admitted Thursday Currie’s concerns are indeed founded.
Due to the formula by which the institute arrived at its calculations, it did not make adjustments for physicians who worked part-time.
“Our challenge is that we don’t have the information from across the country where we can do a comparable relative average for each province across the country, so what we ended up using was the number of physicians who had actually received a payment,” said Geoff Ballinger, manager of health human resources for CIHI.
“So it is a head count and it is not adjusted for part-time physicians or locums. So (Currie) is correct.”
The CIHI report, released Tuesday, suggested the average gross clinical payment for P.E.I. in 2010–2011 was about $307,000 per physician. Average earnings ranged from as low as $236,000 in Prince Edward Island, the CIHI report stated.
But with the correction to the physician complement number, P.E.I.’s physician compensation for 2010/11 was on average actually $380,100, the top in Atlantic Canada, and ahead of British Columbia and Ontario.
Currie said he felt it was important to clarify these numbers to reflect the true picture of doctors’ pay in P.E.I.
“Our compensation for physicians is very rich. And there’s key specialty positions that are stacking up as good as some of the specialty areas in the country,” Currie said.
“I just think if you’re spending $95 million for a full-time complement of 225 physicians… we need to represent that message and those facts to the taxpayers of P.E.I. that we are paying our physicians and we are competing and stacking up against other provinces.”
Ballinger said the institute will continue to work with all provinces to gather more detailed information in order to give a fuller representation of this kinds of data in future reports.
In fiscal year 2012/13, it is expected that Prince Edward Island will spend approximately $95 million on the master physician agreement.
This will bring the average compensation up to $427,000 per physician.