Islanders cherish our health care system. Well-funded and supported health services are vital to our communities, yet it’s getting harder and harder for people to access the health care they need – when they need it and where they live.
Too many people on PEI can’t get a doctor. They wait months on the physician registry, and resort to seeking care in overcrowded and frequently closed ERs. People are spending weeks or months waiting in pain and anxiety for a surgery, or having to travel long distances to access the health care they desperately need.
For decades, Conservative and Liberal governments’ big cuts and bad choices have broken PEI’s health care system. Health care is under threat of being sold off to for-profit companies. Nurses, doctors and other health care professionals are chronically short staffed and burnt out. Every health care worker deserves respect in the workplace and respect at the bargaining table.
It’s time for someone to deliver a better deal for Islanders. We can fix the health care system by actually listening to the front lines and investing in our public system – creating good jobs along the way.
Michelle Neill and the Island New Democrats will fight to:
- End the shortage of doctors, nurses and health care workers.
- Stop ER and hospital closures.
- Cut ambulance wait times, especially in rural areas.
- Improve senior care at home and build new long-term care beds.
- Provide timely and accessible mental health care to all Islanders.
- Bring down prescription costs by fighting for a national Pharmacare plan.
- Stop the privatization of our health care system.
- Increase services and support for cancer patients.
Primary Health Care
Everyone deserves health care when and where they need it. Many Islanders, however, are going without. The list of people waiting for a family physician or nurse practitioner is growing, while critical care and surgeries are being put off and rescheduled.
Health care workers must continually go above and beyond to deliver the care that Islanders need and deserve. For years they have sounded the alarm about stresses in the system, but despite promise after promise, Conservative and Liberal governments have failed to follow through.
PEI needs a plan to restore and expand primary care, and only New Democrats are ready to deliver it. At the heart of our plan is the Canada Health Act and a commitment to publicly funded, universally accessible care at every stage of life.
Island New Democrats would:
- Establish health hubs where primary care teams provide services to individuals in their communities.
- Address the shortage of physicians and nurse practitioners by fast-tracking the licensing of foreign-trained health care professionals.
- Ease the pressure on regional hospitals by hiring physician assistants.
- Create a provincial travel nurse program.
- Continue to fight for and fully fund the new medical faculty at UPEI.
- Improve access to programs and activities that support healthy living and disease prevention.
Equitable Health Care
No matter who you are, health care should be there for you. Yet for many Islanders, health care is particularly hard to access. Equity-deserving communities have been clear on what’s needed; it’s time for a government that will listen.
People who menstruate can spend thousands over their lifespan on menstrual hygiene products. Understandably, people with low incomes and living on social assistance have difficulty affording this necessity.
Members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community are also struggling to access inclusive and gender-affirming health care services, while fighting for just human rights legislation.
Liberals and Conservatives have failed to address gender inequality in our health care system – for instance, by ignoring the longstanding call for expansion of midwifery on the Island. The King government alone has been pledging this service since 2019.
It’s past time Islanders had a better deal for equitable health care. Island New Democrats would establish:
- A full range of covered gender-affirming care services.
- Investment in public education about sexuality, gender, consent, sexual and reproductive health.
- Fully -funded medical and surgical abortion services, with increased access across the Island especially in rural areas.
- Full provincial coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices.
- Immediate legislation, certification and regulation to integrate publicly-funded midwifery services into PEI’s health care system.
- Comprehensive services for people living with or at risk of HIV, including harm reduction and anonymous HIV testing.
- Access to a PEI health card for everyone – e.g. migrant workers, international students when visas expire.
Long-term and Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities
Seniors and people with disabilities deserve to live with dignity. No one requiring supported living should worry about having their needs met. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the shameful reality of underfunded nursing homes and community care facilities.
Underpaid nurses and resident care workers are run off their feet, subjected to unsafe conditions, and forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. There are seniors stuck in hospitals waiting for long-term care beds, and people with disabilities stuck in institutions waiting for independent living options.
Conservatives and Liberals say they’ll do better, but people are still waiting.
It’s time for an unprecedented investment in public long-term care and home care. Seniors and people with disabilities, regardless of income, should be able to choose from a full range of options to live independently with appropriate support.
New Democrats are committed to the care and dignity of Islanders. We will:
- Prioritize livable wages, stable jobs, and the health and safety of front-line workers in long-term and home care.
- Invest in training programs and career incentives to address staffing shortages .
- Expand the scope of practice of personal care workers (PCWs).
- Improve living spaces, programming and staffing for residents with dementia and severe impairment.
- Set a standard number of required daily hours of care for nursing home and community care residents.
- Work with the federal, provincial and territorial governments to develop national care standards.
- Strengthen the full-range complement of professional services in the publicly managed home care program – OT, physio, social work, personal support and home help.
- Create a substantial Caregiver Tax Credit to provide real financial support to family caregivers.
- Push back on privatization of long-term care and home care.
- Invest in more health human resources to provide quality, safe and responsive healthcare, including palliative care.
- Prioritize palliative care in bilateral funding agreements.
Mental Health and Addiction
Mental health affects all of us. Islanders today are suffering stresses from the pandemic and the rising cost of living. From trauma to opioid drug addictions, people need timely and appropriate help – but more often than not, help isn’t there.
Too many Islanders have been left to manage mental health on their own. PEI’s mental health system is currently based on acute care and treatment. In many cases, however, people require the long-term support of a dedicated professional therapist or counsellor. It shouldn’t take an emergency to access mental health care.
It’s past time Islanders had a better deal for mental health. New Democrats would:
- Implement mental health therapy through the PEI health card, allowing Islanders to choose the best services for their needs.
- Improve accessibility of our province’s complicated and under-utilized e-health system.
- Ensure all schools are staffed with properly trained mental health personnel and increase funding for Student Well-being Teams.
- Develop community-based youth addiction and prevention programs.
- Include harm reduction centres in community health hubs.
Rural and Emergency Health Services
Islanders should be able to count on emergency health services, no matter where they live. People in rural communities shouldn’t have to endure long ambulance waits or drive long distances to get medical attention, but this is too often the case.
Liberal and Conservative governments have left rural Islanders behind. They have followed a pattern of eroding local services in favour of centralization, threatening the lifeblood of smaller communities.
We can make sure all Islanders have essential health services they can count on. New Democrats are committed to working for these solutions:
- Special bonus funding for secure staffing at district hospital emergency rooms.
- A publicly-owned agency to operate extramural Emergency Medical Services.
- Boosting practicum and residency placements for medical students and graduates with experienced rural physicians.
- Incentives for locum physicians to fill gaps in rural clinics.
- Clear standards for delivery of ER services and ambulance response times.
- Expanding Holland College’s training programs for paramedics.