Islanders can't afford further cuts to health care

Posted Mar 12, 2012

The President of the Prince Edward Island Union of Public Sector Employees (PEI UPSE) says "Premier Ghiz promised Islanders that there would be no cuts to health care in a speech to the Rotary club in January 2012. The Premier stressed that his government would deal with the deficit by cutting budgets in all other departments by 3%. However, the government is now going back on its word by saying that vital health care services will be cut in Prince Edward Island by 6-7% because of escalating costs. The union questions this sudden change in direction as it will affect health care services for Islanders. The decision is also suspect as PEI UPSE and IUOE health employees are presently gearing up for negotiations in the Spring, and CUPE health employees are currently working on a contract settlement."

President Ward says "the government is partly blaming the service cuts on health care workers and their wages, despite the fact that wages have barely kept pace with inflation. This has led to chronic recruitment and retention issues for the province and a reduction in health care services for Islanders. There are fewer acute care services in rural areas and a decreasing number of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) in units that have been realigned to implement the new model of care in the province."

"PEI UPSE is calling upon the Minister of Health to address the staffing issues in the provincial health care system and to reconsider the model of care philosophy regarding the care of patients. We are beginning to see the consequences that result from a lack of staffing," explained Ward. "Our members have reported that providing personal care for patients has, in some cases, become difficult. Nurses are being ignored by Health PEI when they request more help on the front line, especially in rural areas. Reports indicate that many elderly patients in the long term care facilities are being left too long without care as nurses are not permitted to wake these patients for personal care and for meals. In some cases patients are developing complications and are no longer receiving three meals a day."

PEI UPSE's President says "Islanders expect and deserve quality health care services. They should not have to accept a significant reduction in vital services because of poor fiscal management on the part of government. The loss of tax payers' money granted or loaned to businesses and industry in the province is larger than the current deficit. Government needs to take some responsibility for the current situation and begin making choices that promote the well being of all Islanders - not just a chosen few."