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

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on April 23, 2014
Prince Edward Island Health Minister Doug Currie
Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

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.

CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF PAYMENTS TO DOCTORS

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.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON HEALTH P.E.I. SALARIES

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.

Primary specialty   Total gross payment amount

 

Ophthalmology         $1.2 million

Psychiatry                $1.23 million

General practice       $926,317

Specialist                 $840,746

Internal medicine     $816,781

Note: These payments are in addition their annual base salaries but also include payments to locum physicians