An Open Letter to Premier King
Dear Premier King:
I am writing to you today as the leader of the Island New Democratic Party to express my deep disappointment with the state of healthcare on Prince Edward Island (PEI) and the fiscal mismanagement of funds under your government’s administration.
The crumbling state of healthcare on our island is evident, and it is causing great concern among our residents. The continuing exodus of family doctors, bolstering the 2019 physician survey conducted by the Medical Society of P.E.I., is alarming. The daily news of physicians quitting lends credence to that survey’s result of 56 percent of family doctors no longer being available by 2024. The loss of these dedicated healthcare professionals is deeply troubling and leaves many Islanders without access to essential medical services.
I continue to be deeply troubled by the fiscal mismanagement of funds that should be allocated to aggressively staffing permanent, full-time public health staff. As we learned at the end of last year, the audited financial statements for the 2021-22 fiscal year revealed a startling turnaround in the province’s bottom line. Aside from the deep concern that such a significant revenue increase was not adequately accounted for in the original budget projections, an equal concern is that this surplus was not put back into our crumbling health care, which has allowed it to progressively worsen in 2023.
The recent announcements made of the closures at the Evangeline Health Centre, Memorial Hospital, and Western Hospital further highlight this government’s lack of needed investments in providing timely and accessible healthcare services to our residents.
Additionally, the decision not to call for a debate on a bill that would make it easier to recruit doctors is disheartening. This proposed legislation would have been a step in the right direction to address the shortage of doctors in rural areas. The concerns raised by both opposition parties regarding centralization and access to healthcare in rural areas should have been taken into serious consideration.
To begin resolving this crisis, we implore you to develop and implement a comprehensive plan that includes aggressive incentivized hiring of permanent, public healthcare staff such as nurses, nurse practitioners, nursing assistants, long-term care staff, and clerical staff. This cannot include band-aid solutions, such as offering vacation summer packages for potential healthcare doctors that may have no intentions of moving to and living in PEI.
We must remove any obstacles preventing immigrant medical professionals from practicing in their chosen fields so that we may benefit from the talents and expertise of those individuals who wish to contribute to our communities by providing vital healthcare services. These actions will assist the Island’s few remaining doctors to focus on caring for their patients.
It is imperative that your government acts swiftly and transparently to reassure the public that our healthcare system will be strengthened and improved. We also call upon both the Green Party leader and the Liberal Party leader to join us in demanding that your government takes immediate steps towards fixing the present healthcare crisis. Together, let us work towards ensuring that every resident of Prince Edward Island has access to safe, reliable, and equitable healthcare services.
I hope that you will consider my concerns seriously and take decisive action to rectify the current state of healthcare on PEI. Our residents deserve access to quality public healthcare, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure their well-being.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Michelle Neill, Leader
Island New Democratic Party
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