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April 30, 2003
For immediate release

Prince Edward Island to Purchase Seats for Medical Laboratory Technologists

Health and Social Services

Health and Social Services Minister, Jamie Ballem, today announced that the Department of Health and Social Services will be purchasing three seats per year for each of the next three years to provide training for Medical Laboratory Technologists at the New Brunswick Community College. Medical Laboratory Technologists provide laboratory testing related to the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of disease.

In October 2001, the Prince Edward Island Health and Social Services System completed a comprehensive "Health Human Resource Supply and Demand Analysis," which projected a shortage of Medical Laboratory Technologists due to a large number of potential retirements.

"Medical Laboratory Technologists are an important component of health care delivery in Prince Edward Island," said Minister Ballem. "We have made arrangements to purchase these seats in response to the projected number of impending retirements in the next two to ten years. While recruitment of health care professionals is ongoing, it is also important that we look to the future and take steps to ensure we will have a sufficient number of MLT graduates available to help fill vacancies as they occur."

The New Brunswick Community College offers a two-year medical laboratory technology program in Saint John. Access to Atlantic college programs for Island students has been problematic for both student applicants and PEI health system employers.

In April 2001, the Atlantic Premiers agreed to accelerate regional cooperation in health human resource areas. Earlier this year, Premier Pat Binns, in a letter to his Atlantic provinces counterparts, asked for support in allowing Island students equal opportunity to enroll in health professional training programs.

"It is important to ensure that Prince Edward Island learners have equitable access to training programs offered in Atlantic Canada, and I want to thank the Premier for his work to ensure the province is prepared to meet current and future laboratory technology demands," said Minister Ballem.

He continued, "Through this agreement, we can give Island students the opportunity to receive training in their chosen profession, and we can offer a challenging and fulfilling work environment when they begin their careers." A two-year, return-in-service agreement will ensure students have a job in the health profession on Prince Edward Island when they complete the training.

Laboratory technologists on Prince Edward Island are represented by the Prince Edward Island Society of Medical Technologists, which has been actively advocating for opportunities for Island students to train as MLTs. Society President, Annette Hollis, said this is just what the Society has been asking for, and she is pleased with the arrangement and the two-year, return-in-service agreement.

"On behalf of the PEI Society, I want to thank Minister Ballem and his staff. Until recently, opportunities for Island students have been limited. We think this arrangement is a wonderful step towards providing the opportunity for Islanders to receive training the field of laboratory technology," said Ms. Hollis.

Kurt Davis, Executive Director of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science is happy with the announcement as well. "I am pleased with this important step taken by the government of Prince Edward Island to fulfill the health human resource needs of our profession."

Islanders who wish further information on the Medical Laboratory Technologist training program should contact the Human Resources Section of the Department of Health and Social Services at 368-5267.

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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