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OPINION: P.E.I. medical faculty gaining federal traction

DR. HERB DICKIESON - SaltWire Network

Herb Dickieson

Guest Opinion

Support for the establishment of a medical faculty at the University of Prince Edward Island is growing across the Island, including endorsements from the cities of Charlottetown and Summerside as well as many of our towns and rural municipalities as communities strive to ensure medical service for their residents, and maintain operation of local hospitals and clinics.

Success in the launching of a medical faculty at UPEI will require leadership from our provincial government as well as partnership at the federal level for financial investment into the health care of Islanders.

Thankfully, federal partners are emerging with commitments from those seeking governance at the national level who will work with our Island government to ensure Islanders will have an educational institution granting medical degrees, as does every other province.

Although other measures, such as enhanced recruitment and retention of physicians, as well as increased residency positions, are required for the present and intermediate term respectively, the establishment of a medical faculty at UPEI will ensure that Islanders will have family doctors over the long term.

From west to east (and in order of ballot presentation) the federal election candidates who have given verbal support to the idea of a medical faculty at UPEI (as of Oct. 9) include, for Egmont: Alex Clark (Green Party), Sharon Dunn (NDP), Logan McLellan (Conservative Party) and Robert Morrissey (Liberal Party); for Malpeque: Anna Keenan (Green Party), Craig Nash (NDP); for Charlottetown: Joe Byrne (NDP), Sean Casey (Liberal Party), Fred MacLeod (Christian Heritage); and in Cardigan: Lynne Thiele (NDP). Green Party candidate Glen Beaton has identified his credentials with his role in the establishment of the Atlantic Veterinary College, and expressed his interest in further discussion, but did not fully commit to the medical faculty.

All other candidates continue to be invited for recognition of their pledge of support for the medical faculty.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s New Democrats (NDP), has spoken with P.E.I. Premier Dennis King offering his support in Ottawa for the medical faculty project at UPEI.

Together, with support and partnership at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, Islanders know we have the capacity, and now have increasing optimism, that we may provide a medical education with degree granting opportunities right here in our province so that we all may be assured of quality medical service with family doctors across the Island into the future.

Herb Dickieson is a retired physician and former MLA with the New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island.

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