Souris seeking help against health care bullying

Nigel Armstrong NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca
Published on February 25, 2016

Alan MacPhee, chair of Islandwide Hospital Access speaks at a public meeting in St. Peters Bay Thursday. Close to 100 people attended to hear details of health care policy affecting Kings County gleaned by the citizens lobby group in its recent report titled "We Can Do Better."

©THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

Citizen groups says its problems with Health P.E.I. echo problems nationwide, time to fight back

A Prince Edward Island lobby group is whipping up support across Canada to fight what it calls the bullying quality of centralized health administration.

Islandwide Hospital Access held its second public meeting of this month Thursday evening in Saint Peters Bay, continuing to take its message on tour around Kings County.

Earlier this month, some 500 people packed into a meeting in Souris where the group unveiled its report titled "We Can Do Better: Major Changes Needed in P.E.I. Health Care".

RELATED: Hundreds gather in Souris to protest health-care services

The report includes a graphic showing that Souris hospital serves a geographic region of some 7,000 people but only has two doctors — 3,500 people per doctor. All other areas of the province have one doctor per approximately 1,500 people.

The group wants a more equitable distribution of the health dollars that the province gets from the federal government.

MacPhee said that based on the population of the Souris health-services zone, this area is not getting its fair share of the millions of dollars in federal equalization payments. He estimates it should come to about $30 million.

"The federal government sends that to P.E.I. based on population, per capita," said MacPhee.

"The province of P.E.I. wouldn't spend $30 million in Eastern Kings if they added up all the schools and all the hospitals and all the highways," he said to rousing applause.

"They are sucking money by the tens of millions of dollars out of every rural community and spending it in Charlottetown.

"It's an addiction to debt-fuelled centralization, like a junkie on our money," said MacPhee.

MacPhee said a citizen health group in rural Alberta wrote a recent report that came to similar conclusions as the report from Islandwide Hospital Access.

That prompted Alvin Keenan, a member of the P.E.I. group, to bring a motion to the annual meeting of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture this past week in Ottawa.

It asks the federation to support a call for a national rural health policy. The policy would include dedicated federal money to be used by the provinces only to the advancement of rural health care.

The Island group is going to ask many other national organizations to pass similar motions of support.

"This is a rural Canada issue, the same kind of bullying, the same kind of discrimination, the same kind of abuse, so let's get together and end this," said MacPhee.