Health P.E.I. spending $320M on salaries

Teresa Wright
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Health P.E.I.

Salaries of doctors, nurses and other health professionals more than half of Island's total health spending

Health P.E.I. will spend a whopping $320 million this year to pay the salaries of doctors, nurses and other health professionals in Prince Edward Island

This makes up over half of the province’s total overall spending on health care, but Health Minister Doug Currie says this is simply the cost of providing health services to Islanders — especially to an aging population of Islanders.

“As you expand programs and services, you need clinicians, you need nurses, you need professionals to provide those services,” Currie said in an interview.

“That’s a costly part of the operations. You can’t add a program without hiring more staff.”

Currie tabled a detailed list of the salaries of all Health P.E.I. employees in the legislature. It does not name individuals specifically, but it does break down each and every employee by position title and number, the department or facility they work in, the position’s full-time equivalent status, the union they belong to and the salary range for each position.

Doctors are on the highest end of the pay scale, with cancer treatment specialists topping out with the highest salary at $312,100 a year.

Other physician specialists such as pathologists, psychiatrists and pediatricians are not too far behind, earning anywhere from $198,900 to $301,600 annually.

Family doctors are at the lowest end of the physician pay scale, but still take home salaries of $143,400 to $154,700 a year.

These salaries are also only base pay for doctors, most of whom make additional money through on-call retainers and by taking on shifts in hospitals, corrections facilities, nursing homes and walk-in clinics.

On the opposite end of the pay scale, housekeeping, food service and maintenance workers make the least amount of money, with salaries of around $34,000 a year.

Nurses fall within a variety of pay ranges, depending on their position classifications. Patient care workers earn a mid-thirties salary while licensed practical nurses make mid-forties. Registered nurses make upwards of $70,300 a year, and even more if they are nurse managers.

Other specialists such as occupational therapists, social workers, physiotherapists and radiation therapists earn mid-range salaries between $55,000 and $71,000.

Meanwhile high-level bureaucrats such as the CEO of Health P.E.I., executive director of medical affairs and the corporate medical director make over $200,000 a year.

Currie said he tables the salary listings in order to help the public better understand how their tax dollars are being invested in health care, which is the largest of all departmental budgets with over $619 million projected to be spent this year.

“I think it’s important that people understand that health care does cost,” Currie said.

“There’s a fairly intense cost to operate a health care system that has a range of competing demands — whether it be long-term care, or whether it be better access for surgery services, primary care, mental health and addictions — there are all kinds of competing pressures.”

He pointed out last year, Health P.E.I. was over budget by over $9 million last year as a result of the unforeseen pressures in the system.

“There’s all kinds of demand, and we must provide a level of services in the province… we’ve got high volumes of chronic disease here the province, so our focus is to manage that chronic disease with health care providers in communities to reduce the number of Islanders that become more sick and end up in emergency rooms and acute care beds,” Currie said.

He added health transfers from the federal government have been shrinking in recent years, while health needs of an aging population have been growing.

As for the level of spending on salaries, Currie says it’s expensive but a necessary and worthwhile investment.

“In order to attract health professionals we need to be competitive.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Health P.E.I.

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • bureaucracy is making us sick
    April 21, 2014 - 04:57

    CEO of health, Executive director of medical affairs, Corporate medical director?? lets see the complete list. Just how many 200k people do we have in these positions? It's no wonder we're in trouble. We can't have a hospital in everyone's back yard, one for each county is even pushing it. In case anyone hasn't noticed, the island is tiny in comparison both in population and geography to the rest of the country, there are towns elsewhere with larger populations and far more remote regions than our extremities. What do they do when someone breaks a leg or has a stroke in the Yukon? Getting rid of the bureaucracy would be an ideal start but when cuts actually come, we all know it will be the low paying jobs to go.

  • Angus
    April 20, 2014 - 12:01

    No problem with the front line folks, Docs, nurses etc., but what about the overloaded bureacracy? Too many folks doing too little work is the hallmark of PEI governments, using their departments as job creators. Same is true federally. Just the silly screaming and justifications from the unions with members hit by cutbacks will show you that. As was noted, folks forget they pay for all these people and their pension plans.

  • Marie
    April 20, 2014 - 08:58

    Spending all the money on the "professionals" leaves little room for the patients...excuse the pun, but so true!!!

  • Buz MacCoy
    April 20, 2014 - 08:54

    Must agree with much of the above. We pay dearly for our medical care. Our problem is that we give politicians control of those purse strings. Health PEI sounded great at first, being run by a knowledgeable medical doctor. Far as I know it is now controlled by several old liberal hacks. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

  • Wake Up!!
    April 20, 2014 - 07:40

    I don't have a problem with paying doctors and nurses after all it is part of health care and keeping our doctors means being competitive. I do however have a problem with paying bureaucrats too much money! This must stop! When you walk into some of the clinics it is wall to wall people doing admin.

    • don
      April 20, 2014 - 19:29

      Wake Up!!. i agree with you fully but i would include ems as they are the real front line workers in our health care. they keep the patients alive till they get to the hospitals and are they paid a good wage? NO. but some big shot sitting in an office with his feet up resting gets paid very well and for what?

  • Aging
    April 20, 2014 - 05:51

    Currie says this is simply the cost of providing health services to Islanders — especially to an aging population of Islanders. Too funny. The young can not afford to stay here and the aging can't afford to pack their lives up and move.

  • voter
    April 19, 2014 - 16:46

    WHAT'S YOUR POINT, Mr. Currie? There are so many tax dollars collected that we should be providing much better health care than we do !!

    • Dave
      April 20, 2014 - 13:26

      If that were the case, why is 40% of the funding required in Federal transfer payments? The tax base is actually quite weak.

    • voter
      April 20, 2014 - 17:44

      to dave -- WHAT'S A LIFE WORTH ??? i pay federal taxes too -- have been paying taxes every year for the past 40 years - and lots of taxes - rather than wasting money on politics , friends of politicians , jobs and grants to buddies and families - sheer waste and stupidity -- SPEND ON HEALTH CARE - if my taxes saves someone suffering or grief then it is money well spent --

  • taxes
    April 19, 2014 - 15:52

    People may complain about salaries but they also remember in a high tax bracket as well .

    • don
      April 20, 2014 - 07:42

      taxes. they maybe in the high tax area but currie does not list the perks that these so called high paying paper pushers get.

  • kudos to the good ones
    April 19, 2014 - 15:34

    Quality vs quantity. We are all for good and well trained doctors with great people skills and empathy. The ones who keep current and interested in learning and do not choose to go stagnant are the best. And they are not afraid to listen and admit they always do not hold all the answers., and refer you to those who may.

  • Bob MacDonald
    April 19, 2014 - 14:25

    The biggest problem facing free health care in Canada is that people think it is free. We pay for it through our taxes and it needs to be better managed. Anytime someone says we have free health care they should be corrected and told no we have publicly funded healthcare.

  • Chris
    April 19, 2014 - 12:53

    If keeping doctors on the island means paying them a competitive wage, I vote to pay them. It beats the alternative of losing them to our neighbor the US where they would probably get paid more. I have lived in both countries and unless your in good health and have adequate coverage in the US it's a recipe for financial disaster. The salaries of doctors on the island is just the price you pay for good health care. The alternate we can't afford.