Prince Edward Island doctors paid more than $67 million above salaries

Teresa Wright
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Prince Edward Island Health Minister Doug Currie

Health P.E.I paid doctors in Prince Edward Island more than $67 million over and above their annual salaries last year.

Health Minister Doug Currie released a document in the legislature Tuesday showing the total amount of fee-for-service and contract payments given to each physician in P.E.I. in 2013.

These are payments were in addition to the doctors’ base salaries, which range between $144,000 and $312,000 a year depending on their area of specialty.

No names are mentioned, but a detailed breakdown that includes each position title and physician number shows how much additional money doctors earn through on-call retainers and by taking on shifts in hospitals, corrections facilities, nursing homes and walk-in clinics.


Currie says he tabled the amounts because the Opposition asked for the information.

He pointed out physician salaries have almost doubled since 2007 and make up a sizable proportion of his total health budget of $619 million.

“Our budget in this area has grown from approximately $62 million to approximately $105 million,” Currie said.

“This is for services that Islanders expect us to provide, but particularly in the specialty areas, there is a demand and costs are higher.”

The document shows an ophthalmologist and a psychiatrist in P.E.I. both earned more than $1.2 million in total payments last year in addition to their salaries of between $199,000 and $230,000 a year.

A large percentage of Island doctors earned over $100,000 through fee-for-service and contract work, also on top of their annual salaries, and many earned close to or over half a million dollars.

The list does include payments to locum physicians who filled vacancies or temporary absences of salaried physicians in P.E.I.

But Currie says the list does not include money spent on specialists who treat Island patients in hospitals or health centres in other provinces.

Health P.E.I. spent an additional $47 million on professional and contract services for out-of-province health services last year.

Last week, Currie tabled a detailed list of the salaries of all Health P.E.I. employees. He does this every spring when the legislature is going through the yearly budget estimates.


That document showed Health P.E.I. will spend a total of $320 million this year to pay the salaries of doctors, nurses and other health professionals, which makes up over half of the province’s total overall spending on health care.

The figures he released Tuesday shed more perspective on the significant amounts of money doctors earn in Prince Edward Island.

Currie said be believes it’s important for Islanders to have an understanding of what it costs to provide Islanders with a full suite of health services while also paying medical professionals competitive wages.

“Physician compensation is a large part of our ability to provide services in the province,” Currie said.

“I think it’s important for Islanders to know there is a cost to health care, there’s a lot of competing demands for a range of services. We, as government, are continuously trying to respond to that demand and over the last number of years we’ve basically been evolving how we’ve been delivering health care in province.”

Physician salaries are negotiated between the province and the P.E.I. Medical Society every few years and laid out in a document called the master agreement.

The current master agreement expires on March 31, 2015.

Organizations: Islanders, Health P.E.I., P.E.I. Medical Society

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, P.E.I., Prince Edward Island.Currie

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Recent comments

  • Barry Nuechterlein
    May 01, 2014 - 23:44

    I understand the frustration many feel with problems in the health care system. As a physician who has been practicing in Charlottetown for the last four years, I share many frustrations with the public. I think many who have commented here would be surprised how sympathetic many physicians are toward public complaints. I have yet to meet a physician in PEI who doesn't seem to honestly want improved service for patients. I am not going to argue with people about fee-for-service versus salary-based compensation with incentives/bonuses (both models are utilized in PEI). I am certainly not going to opine about what a physician ought to earn, as that would be unseemly and unprofessional. I have been compensated very generously for my work here, and am grateful to the patients who have put their trust in me and supported me with their tax dollars. I never forget who pays me, even if it is done indirectly through public insurance. I work for patients and am accountable to them, full stop. Be assured, I make nowhere near the amounts cited in the article. I work full-time, and participate fully in my specialty's call rota. I am not a "three-day-a-week" doc, for those who may wonder. Citing totals for five individual physicians, all exceeding $800,000, does not provide an accurate picture of the amount a typical PEI specialist or generalist physician is paid. What physicians are paid on PEI is not unusual or at great variance with compensation in other provinces, particularly if net compensation after taxes and business/professional expenses is considered. Understand that an ophthalmologist who is paid more than a million dollars annually may have substantial capital and other expenses associated with his/her practice. The equipment used in the practice of that specialty is very high-grade and pricey. Much of it is imported at great cost. Then, there is the cost of employing the staff who support the ophthalmologist's practice. One must be mindful that such a physician is often working as an "independent businessperson," and must fund his/her own insurance, pension, vacation time, continuing education, licensure, certification, etc., etc. S/he will still do quite well after expenses, but the picture is not as simple as it appears superficially. Of course, everyone wants the doctor working on their own eyes to do the best work possible; it's your eyesight at stake! When you consider that, the cost of equipping, paying, and supporting an ophthalmologist might seem more reasonable. Now, if someone believes it is unjust for any person to make a very high income, that is a legitimate opinion. As long as such an opinion is applied equally to all, fair game. But, if the same people complaining about physician incomes accept that pro hockey players, large landowners, business owners/executives, university presidents, and successful entertainers are justified in having high incomes, I think it is a little odd to argue that the doctor who spent more than a decade learning how to look after their eyes or treat them when they face incapacitating mental illness is grossly over-paid. In all things, you get what you pay for. That goes for many goods and services, and is as true for health care as it is for business leadership or professional athletics. Note: I do not authorize reproduction of these comments except in full, unedited form. The opinions stated are solely my own as an interested citizen, and do not represent the position of any organization, health care institution, or professional grouping. I bear full responsibility for the views stated.

  • b.jones
    April 30, 2014 - 16:44

    This artical misses several essential points. For those physicians who work on a salaried basis and this represents only a portion of the complement , monies earned as FFS are done so for hours worked outside there 40 hr work week and augment the care offerred to Islenders. Secondly many physicians are not on salary and the artical makes no distinction as to those who only recieve remunaration when they work and make no income when not in the office. To simply group all physicians togeather without accuratly discussing the relavant facts is irresponsible journalism . I expect more from our news people.

  • Peter
    April 27, 2014 - 17:02

    Premiere Ghiz' wife is a doctor. How many of these $67 million did she get?

  • Kenny Rand
    April 24, 2014 - 19:00

    1.23 million for a psychiatrist? Something is wrong with that picture. Time for an audit, could be fraud. Who is managing these costs?

    • Barry Nuechterlein
      May 02, 2014 - 00:00

      Be careful about throwing around the "F" word (fraud). Unless you have evidence to back that up, it looks an awful lot like libel. Whatever your opinions about physician compensation, accusing someone of a crime is serious business.

  • Me
    April 24, 2014 - 18:57

    PEI is elderly and getting older... what do you expect?!

  • Quiet Observer
    April 24, 2014 - 11:23

    My opinion is that all doctors should be paid fee for service. And there should be no limit on how many doctors set up in a centre, such as Charlottetown. let's get a little competition for patients going so maybe doctors will start providing a little better service to patients. I I will not start on ER doctors who spend more time looking at their new fangled computer screens than they do looking after patients. Was in there a few weeks ago with my aged mother. There was 1 person in waiting room. Four others in patient rooms. 2 doctors on. Waited 2 hours for doctor after going to exam room. I watched and one doctor spent 45 minutes on her computer screen. saw a patient, then went back and spent 30 more minutes. So, that is seeing 1 patient in about 1.5 hours. Other doctor was not as bad, he only spent 15-20 minutes at a time on computer between seeing patients. Either way, the focus now is not on patients, but on doing whatever they are doing on their computers.

  • An opinion of sorts
    April 23, 2014 - 15:29

    I agree somewhat about some ? specialists. There is one I often wonder about especially. No headway ever made, does not seem to know his stuff. Just vague. My opinion. Waste of your time seeing him. Disorganized imo Are we really thoroughly checking backgrounds thoroughly? Just a question. If we were to take doctors from each province and give them a written test how would our province fare?

  • An opinion of sorts
    April 23, 2014 - 15:28

    I agree somewhat about some ? specialists. There is one I often wonder about especially. No headway ever made, does not seem to know his stuff. Just vague. My opinion. Waste of your time seeing him. Disorganized imo Are we really thoroughly checking backgrounds thoroughly? Just a question. If we were to take doctors from each province and give them a written test how would our province fare?

  • AnonymousIslander
    April 23, 2014 - 14:40

    1.2M for a psychiatrist? With the state of mental health and addictions as it is in this province?!

  • differences
    April 23, 2014 - 12:27

    Saw doctor this aft re my wrist/forearm. Got there 2:35pm, doc saw me at 2:40pm. Had x-ray at centre at 3:10pm (5 min wait). Got blood tests at the lab at 3:30pm (17-18 min wait). Got Rx filled after. Such a stark comparison to PEI. A friend in another province wrote this , she is a generational islander. Her Mom on PEI recently had to wait for nearly 6 hours for a drug refill. She is in her nineties. It is not the same in other provinces, and there are vast discrepancies.

    • Dave
      April 23, 2014 - 14:41

      You're quite right, it seems the quality of PEI health care is likely last in the country, but access to health care is likely first. I live in a small Albertan town now, the size of Souris. Nearest hospital is 45 min away and until the last year, we did not have emergency services or our own doctors (they traveled from other towns). ..........Specialists are all 3-5 hours away. This is normal off PEI. PEI is wasting all it's money on providing unrealistic access............The rest of the country sees 30 min to a hospital as normal, rural Islanders see it as a human rights infringement.

    April 23, 2014 - 11:47

    Really you pay someone to work 3 to 4 hours a day 5 days a week . I could be so lucky to have a plus job . I would BE TOO ASHAMED TO SAY WHAT YOU SPENT ON THIS .Look into your new doctors , payed for not working .Great way to go .

  • Chris
    April 23, 2014 - 10:25

    I guess someone should ask, why are we paying so much money for medical costs for inmates in our correctional facilities. Is it worth it?

    • maybe
      April 23, 2014 - 15:01

      Maybe we should ask why we spend money on your medical costs. Are you worth it?

  • Dave
    April 23, 2014 - 09:57

    To put it context, the last time I looked it up, PEI was ranked 9th of the provinces in GP wages. Only Quebec paid less. .....Doctor shortages exist all across the country, not just PEI. Remember the Dr who left Souris claiming he could work PT in BC and make the same wages, while spending more time with his family?

  • Marie
    April 23, 2014 - 08:31

    Doug Currie; It's a sad statement for you to admit you will spend in excess of $620M this year to service 150,000 people. Many of these same people don't have a family doctor, have to leave the Island for ANY specialty medicine, no addiction help, no help for our disabled, no abortion clinic, etc etc.. So explain to me again who it is you are helping with taxpayer money because, from this story, it sounds like the budget is for staff....oh is!...that's some surprise!!! Suffer the patients...sleep well Mr Currie?

  • Fed up
    April 23, 2014 - 08:28

    With the lack of specialists...and ALL doctors on's interesting Currie says it's for the SPRCIALISTS we ask for!?!? Where are the Vascular Surgeons? The Dermatologists? The "Doctor for every Islander?" Even no technicians who read ct scans?! We wait 3-6 weeks to have them READ!! That's a long time for people waiting for news if the Cancer is gone!! Every time Currie stands up...just to show his face on tv or in the paper...people get more angry. Friend of ours LOST HIS LEG!! In Halifax, he was told the leg could have been saved if looked after earlier. AND there were FIVE THERE FROM PEI...JUST IN HIS ROOM. What did that cost. They had all gone over...sent back with pending strike...back again for treatment...and surgery. Currie...or Ghiz who gives these ridiculous orders...should spend some "quality" time dealing with this lack of medical care!!

  • Around The Corner
    April 23, 2014 - 08:22

    Can it be so simple as to say what is the infrastructure and budgeted costs to correctly look after 144,000 or so in the community. Can it be that simple. Then is the medical profession, and it's support, complacent with what has developed in renumeration over the past 7 years. Get all one can, Island Liv'n theory, and don't say a word? The equipment to administrate health, from ambulances to hospitals, is there in aces. The communities are there with their efforts at fund raising for awareness, talking the cure and listening. Just this week an Islander shockingly died in a Toronto Hospital after a seemingly sudden and sad for all, 28 day bout of discovered cancer.... missed twice, to four times, when on the Island, may have been detected, in the last 14 months by actual health issue tests and visits to Island medicine practices. My question Is there a focus on the business of doctoring rather than the focus on the sworn oath of caring medicine. PEI with it's grand systems and modern health structures for 144,000 individuals +- should be a destination for medicine to be practiced and cure advancements, The fees gathering, the add ons, and infrastructural support are presenting themselves as primary to the secondary thought of proper diagnostics and discovery of disease.

  • and still
    April 23, 2014 - 07:41

    all that money, and still they deny women their basic human rights by refusing abortion,

    • maybe
      April 23, 2014 - 15:04

      There is more to life than abortion. I swear, if someone was posting that they were dying of heart problems because they couldn't get to see a doctor the response would be that it was more important to get abortion than a good heart specialist.

  • voter
    April 23, 2014 - 06:59

    let's shut down the whole place and save ottawa some handout money--there are lot's of better places in Canada--exile all retired politicians to pei and let them travel to halifax or moncton ,etc for health care and other necessities

    • Eyes Open
      April 23, 2014 - 08:59

      A man with no wisdom sheds darkness on the conversation. You go, girl!

    • voter
      April 23, 2014 - 17:41

      obviously too deep for you -- or your buttons are too easily pressed

  • sammy
    April 23, 2014 - 06:45

    Salaries are just the tip of the iceberg. The physicians are paid additional money for just about everything to run their practice. Read the Master Agreement sometime (it is online).. Our doctors are the 2nd highest paid in the country. You wanted health care 2nd to none well now you got and and you will pay for it in your taxes.

    • No Idea
      April 23, 2014 - 08:33

      Just shows that money doesn't always buy quality. I have no issues with the GP's we encountered but the specialists wouldn't pass the board exams in a 3rd world country. A couple we had to use nearly killed one member of our family and as a result, we left PEI to get correct care in another province. Years of suffering were fixed within weeks of getting a specialist elsewhere who knew what he was doing.

    • Dave
      April 23, 2014 - 10:25

      I'd like to see some proof of your wages. That's not what I have read, and I don't believe you are even close to correct.