Note from Michael April 5 2023 | Addressing our core problem - not enough health care workers

From the desk of Dr. Michael Gardam, Health PEI CEO


Notes from MichaelHi everybody,

Now that the provincial election is over, we’re back to regular business at Health PEI. The caretaker convention has ended, which means we can go back to our normal tempo of communication. 

Health care dominated the election narrative, but from a health care operations perspective, we’re largely in the same position we were before the election. We know the main issues facing our teams: not enough staff to do the work, frustration with existing systems, lack of connection and engagement between frontlines and leadership. Our problems seem on the surface very simple, i.e., “just hire more people”, but they are very actually complex as none of these can be solved on our own.  

At the root of all the issues is this: we need to get more staff into this system as soon as possible, and we won’t achieve that with the system the way it is. 

We need to focus on making Health PEI a place where people want to work, and we need to be sure that the organization is central in recruitment efforts. 

New professionals that have been mentioned in the political conversation, such as Physician Assistants, can help; expanding scope can help; however, we need fundamental change in our recruitment and hiring practices to ensure as many qualified health care workers join us as possible.

Retention is, of course, equally important to hiring. As existing staff, you have been doing the hard work of keeping this health care system afloat with your expertise, knowledge and dedication. You need more help to keep doing this!

We have done tremendous amounts of work on the People Strategy and the Employee Engagement Plan, with action plans rolling out across the organization very soon. 

As important as culture is, based on the feedback I have heard from staff who leave, the overwhelming reason people stop working at Health PEI is workload. 

Hiring more staff is fundamental to retention.

Staff and Islanders have struggled too long with a system that is drastically understaffed. There are many projects we need to grow to improve access to timely care for Islanders, and we need to ensure we don’t simply ask our already stretched health care workers to do more and more. 

Growing the Health PEI team through finding innovative ways to hire front line health care workers and support services needed to provide excellent care is my key focus this fiscal year. 

Let’s do this together. 



Please send questions, comments, or submissions for these notes to, subject line “Notes for Michael”.