Health care concerns are a priority for many Summerside-area voters heading to the polls for the April 23 provincial election.
Patrick McMahon, who was going about his business at the Summerside Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, said addressing the lack of nursing beds available to seniors is the top reason he is voting.
“We have 22 or 23 critical care beds at Prince County Hospital being utilized solely to hold people while they wait for a nursing home,” stated McMahon, who suffered a serious health scare last year.
He said the province should take existing land and build a special care manor. This, he said, will allow acute-care hospital beds to be available for the sickest Islanders while enhancing long-term care for seniors.
“Out of respect for humanity we need to correct this,” he said. “My mother waits in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a bed to be available. It’s costing us upwards of $90 a day to keep her there. She can’t return to her former residence because they don’t provide the proper nursing care.”
He acknowledged it takes a toll on everyone involved and said "well-trained" nurse practitioners could help free-up physicians inside and outside the hospital.
Rebecca Curley, who was with her two kids at the Credit Union Place on the weekend, said her fiancée is feeling the stress of being on the waiting list for a family doctor.
“It’s taking such a long time,” she said while noting health care is a top issue for her vote.
“We also need pediatricians because I have two children who are followed by them, and my nine-year-old has been struggling for some time now. This whole drawn-out process needs to be more efficient.”
John Curtis braved the rain and snow to wave his picket sign downtown on Water Street and challenge the Liberal government, which has been in power since 2007.
“I’ve been after legal aid four times and denied by the Liberals,” he said while listing off dates on “empty” political promises regarding mental health care.
Curtis said he was a patient in Unit 9 (acute psychiatric unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital) when shortly after release he heard a patient lost their life to suicide.
The Journal Pioneer continued to find out what was on voters’ minds.
Party loyalty is important to retired Summerside teacher Tilmon Pineau.
“I’ve voted Liberal all my life and I don’t see any reason not to vote for them. They have an experienced team in there and the government has been stable, no major controversies, so that’s the primary reason to continue to vote for them.”
Jim Fisher, who was at Credit Union Place, said he’s on the fence when it comes to voting, but said a hike in gas tax could cost his vote.
“It costs me a $1.20 for a litre of gas for my vehicle. People must travel and it’s a hard situation when you hear reports that tax is increasing.”
Standing nearby was Arnold Muttart said it was time for a change, and believes that change will come with the Greens.
“They (Greens) can shake the other parties up.”