Mixed political reaction to UPEI Medical School delay
News of another delay for a medical school at the University of Prince Edward Island has met with a mixed political reaction.
University officials now say the first students won’t start classes until August 2025. When it was first announced in October 2021, the school was slated to open this fall.
It was then pushed back to 2024.
On Thursday, the university said plans will have to be postponed because it cannot guarantee accreditation officials that the new medical school building will be constructed and operational in time for the 2024-25 academic year.
NDP candidate and former party leader, Dr Herb Dickieson, said Friday the university had done tremendous work on the plan for a school to offer a joint doctorate in medicine with Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador.
But Dickieson said the province needs to do more to ensure there are enough doctors on PEI to allow for medical school.
“The King’s government has failed completely in recruiting doctors on the island and we’ve lost a lot of doctors in recent years and they’re just not being replaced fast enough,” he said. “So there is a retention issue and a recruitment issue that the king’s government has not addressed.”
Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker said he thought the original timelines were very optimistic when the school announced 2021.
He thinks it is responsible to delay the admission of medical students.
More work is needed to ensure the healthcare system can withstand the additional demands of the new school, Bevan-Baker says.
“It’s really indicative of something that wasn’t thoroughly thought through prior to its announcement,” he said. “And that’s a real problem. We know how the medical system is struggling here on Prince Edward Island at the moment. Doctors are overwhelmed.
“I love the idea of a medical school. I don’t think there is anyone on the island who would not like that. But if it’s going to be a further demand and strain on the existing medical system … then I think we have to be really careful about what we’re doing here and make sure we’re prepared for that,” Bevan-Baker said.
Liberal leader Sharon Cameron said she had no faith in government to fulfill medical school. She believes it will be a decade before it will help the healthcare system.
“It’s the only plan they have… I’m not optimistic [but] I think it would be great if they succeed,” she said.
The university has said that with the new schedule, the students will not need residency internships until 2029.