It is disappointing that news of a delay in opening a medical school at UPEI was only supposed to come out when the government was asked about it, say the opposition Greens.
Plans for the school were announced five months ago and it was slated to open in the fall of 2023.
In response to a question from Green MP Trish Altass during the budget debate on Wednesday, Education Minister Natalie Jameson said the school is now expected to open in fall 2024.
“It was only in October that we had a big event and it was announced that it was going to open in 2023. It’s only been a few months and already the plan changed a year ago,” Altass said.
“It’s disappointing that it had to come out as a sting moment today, like we had to ask about it and nobody knew.”
The question was raised by the fact that there was no money for the medical school in the provincial budget, which was tabled last week. Last year there was $4 million in the budget, and the estimated cost over six years was $129 million.
Jameson said he met with UPEI’s acting president and discussed medical school last week. She said the school is not the province’s responsibility but a university enterprise, in partnership with Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“We are committed to being a partner on this and there are processes through the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission that we have to join, or they have to join, so they have told us that it will be probably fall 2024,” she said.
Premier Dennis King attended the medical school’s announcement in October, saying it would lay the foundation for a better health care system in PEI.
The UPEI curriculum would emphasize general practitioners and family physicians.
Currently, more than 22,000 Islanders do not have a family doctor.