Business as usual after Health PEI board resignations, says health minister

The members of the board of Health PEI, the body that administers Prince Edward Island's health care system, have resigned.

Province to appoint trustee to take on role of board

The board of Health PEI has resigned en masse. (Health PEI)

The members of the board of Health PEI, the body that administers Prince Edward Island's health care system, have resigned.

The former chair told CBC News the resignations are connected to concerns about changes in how the health care system will operate outlined in the new Health Services Act.

This was a group of 11 people who were totally committed.— Alex MacBeath

The changes in the act transfer some powers from the board to the health minister, who will under the new act be responsible for the strategic direction of health care in the province, and be able to send written directives to the board.

"I was disappointed. I had met with the board last week and indicated that we had lots of work to do and I was hopeful that they would stay on in that role," said Health Minister Robert Mitchell about the resignations.

"I want to congratulate them on the good work they've done in the past."

Mitchell said a trustee will be appointed in place of the board, and the health care system will continue to operate normally.

Health Minister Robert Mitchell says he is disappointed by the resignations. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"We have great leadership at Health PEI with the CEO," said Mitchell.

"We can continue business as usual with a trustee in place that can handle those roles of the board."

A new approach

Outgoing board chair Alex MacBeath said the new Health Services Act signalled a new kind of administration for the provincial health care system.

"We recognize that the government wanted to change approach, and we decided collectively it would be best if we stepped aside and allowed that change to happen," MacBeath said.

MacBeath would not be specific about any particular concerns with the new legislation, saying there were some good aspects to it, including things the board was already doing.

"It's a difference in approach," MacBeath reiterated.

Former Chair Alex MacBeath said it was a tough decision for all eleven board members to resign. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"A lot more responsibility and a lot more of the authority rests with the department, and I think that the board of Health PEI, as an independent board of a Crown corporation, has a fiduciary responsibility, has legal and professional responsibilities, and we need to make sure that we are in a position to fulfil those."

MacBeath said it was a difficult decision for the board to make.

"This was a group of 11 people who were totally committed to the health care system, to making a strong contribution, to making a difference," he said.

Health Minister Robert Mitchell said he expects the trustee will be in place for a couple of months while a new board is put together.

He said the Health PEI board will continue to play an important and meaningful role under the new Health Services Act, and he thanked the departing board members for their service.

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With files from Laura Meader