P.E.I. continues to have the lowest number of doctors per capita amongst the provinces, but a recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows some encouraging trends.
Number of doctors per 100K population
- Canada: 209
- P.E.I.: 178
- Kings County: 66
- Queens County: 200
- Prince County: 118
The number of doctors on the Island rose 18.8 per cent from 2007 to 2011, the report shows. The national rate of growth is about four per cent. Another trend that could work in work in P.E.I.'s favour in the future is an increasing number of doctors responding to efforts to get them to practise in rural areas. Across Canada the number of rural doctors rose 10 per cent over that same period.
Yvonne Rosehart, program lead of health human resources at CIHI, said not having a medical training program on P.E.I. is an obstacle to increasing doctor numbers.
"Doctors that work where they were trained are less mobile, so they're more likely to stay. Doctors trained in one province but starting their career in another province, there's a better chance that they're going to move on," said Rosehart.
"I know that P.E.I. works quite closely with doctors in different residency programs that have been kind of allocated to bringing doctors back to P.E.I. so there's a lot of work being done to get to know those doctors, to encourage them to come back to P.E.I."
In other parts of Atlantic Canada the number of doctors per capita is above the national average. Kings County has the smallest number of doctors, with the number per capita less than a third of the national average.