P.E.I. government looking to speed up hiring process for health-care workers
'We're in a crisis, that's what we need to do. We need to be bringing people in,' Green MLA says
The province is exploring ways to speed up the hiring process for some health-care positions.
The idea is to skip the interview process for qualified candidates when hiring for many open positions of the same job, and it came up during Friday's legislative standing committee for health and wellness.
PC MLA Sidney MacEwen asked deputy minister of health and wellness Mark Spidel whether the hiring process could be sped up.
Spidel said there are a multitude of bureaucratic layers that can slow down the hiring process, and that if removed can help fill positions quicker.
"When a decision is to post a position it has to go finance, it has to go to HR, it has to go through many layers before it gets approved to be posted at the Public Service Commission," he told the committee.
"That's not where the problem is, the problem is in all the layers within the bureaucracy of Health PEI that we need to try and realign and reshape."
Spidel gave the example of the way nursing graduates are hired. He said the reason people don't make the cut is usually because their references aren't as good as others.
"So we're saying 'Let's cut out the whole interview process component, that time lag, and jump right to references and if all of those are positive then let's introduce them,'" he said.
"That's what we're saying for them to do, is to do it that way."
'We'll take them all as long as they're qualified'
MacEwen told CBC News after committee that he'd like to see this fast-tracked process work out and that it would help make hiring much quicker.
"It's not like we have 60 nurses applying for 40 positions so we have to pick the best," he said. "We have 50-60 nurses and we'll take all of them as long as they're qualified."
MacEwen said he agreed with Spidel, adding that expediting that recruitment process may take pressure off the P.E.I. Public Service Commission, for example, which is the hiring arm for the province.
"Why would we waste that whole bureaucratic process of going through the interviews and qualifying them and then, you know, basically going through for a number of weeks, perhaps months, because of the delays that are going on with the Public Service Commission, and just go to the references."
In cases where there are many more positions than candidates, MacEwen said he hopes this style of recruitment happens in the future.
"I think that's the kind of thinking they need in our health-care system."
'Is it necessary to interview each and every one of them?'
Minister of Health and Wellness Ernie Hudson said there are several roadblocks in the hiring process, and this would save time and resources to bypass interviewing candidates the province already plans to hire.
"Is it necessary to interview each and every one of them when we know that they have the credentials?… Where are [interviews] absolutely necessary? And are there certain parts of this whole process that, in certain cases anyway, that could be eliminated to expedite the recruitment process?" he said.
"If it's the case where we're interviewing for the sake of doing an interview, at the end of the day knowing absolutely what the outcome is going to be, why do you do that?"
It wouldn't be the case for all positions, he added. There will always be positions that must be interviewed for.
Green MLA Michele Beaton, who is also the Opposition critic for health and wellness, said the province is doing well at reaching potential candidates.
Although, she said it's "becoming really apparent" that the hiring process is taking too long.
"It's a challenge for management to deal with and, really, if we can remove some of those red tapes in there in order to be able to offer to health-care professionals quickly then we need to do that," she said.
"We're in a crisis, that's what we need to do. We need to be bringing people in, but we need to be able to keep them."