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P.E.I. PCs pledge ‘immediate’ replacement of Hillsborough Hospital

PC Leader Dennis King speaks at a party announcement on Thursday, March 28, 2019. The PCs have pledged to replace the Hillsborough Hospital, improve cancer treatment in Kings and Prince counties and create a new Wellness and Activity tax credit. With him are candidates Tim Keizer, right, and Ron Carragher.
PC Leader Dennis King speaks at a party announcement on Thursday, March 28, 2019. The PCs have pledged to replace the Hillsborough Hospital, improve cancer treatment in Kings and Prince counties and create a new Wellness and Activity tax credit. With him are candidates Tim Keizer, right, and Ron Carragher. - Stu Neatby
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Days ago, Charlottetown-Hillsborough PC candidate Sarah Stewart-Clark says a friend who was sitting in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital emergency reached out to her via Facebook.

The individual had waited for 45 minutes and had not been triaged by staff. Stewart-Clark believed the individual was in the midst of what many would consider a mental health crisis. She feared the worst.

After not hearing back from the individual, Stewart-Clark said she called 911. Luckily, an officer found the individual still in the ER.

"That concerns me. These are things that I started to raise (as an advocate) two years. It's very frustrating," she said.

On Thursday, Stewart-Clark spoke about the incident at a Progressive Conservative campaign announcement of her party.

At the event, PC Leader Dennis King announced that, if elected, his government would begin the “immediate replacement” of P.E.I.’s psychiatric hospital, the Hillsborough Hospital.

The governing Liberals have acknowledged the need to replace the facility. In November, Health Minister Robert Mitchell pledged to build a new eight-bed housing facility on the grounds of the hospital by 2021. Plans for a new mental health and addictions campus are in the works but are not slated to be completed before 2024.

But King says what’s lacking is urgency.

"The message I have heard is, Islanders are struggling,” King said.

“Whether we have a brother or sister struggling with anxiety, a son or daughter battling depression or thinking about harming themselves, a friend or co-worker who doesn't know where to go or what to do or who to talk to, this is a real issue."

King also made two other health care-related announcements. He pledged that, if elected, his government would make improvements to community-based cancer treatment in Kings and Prince counties and promised a tax credit to encourage Islanders to become more active.

King said cancer treatment should take place locally to reduce stress of Islanders seeking treatments. He did not offer an estimate of costs associated with cancer treatment-related improvements to these health facilities.

He said a Wellness and Activity tax credit could be as much as $500 per year for individuals who pursue a physical activity.

"This will help cover the cost of things like dance classes, minor hockey registrations, fees for yoga classes and gym membership.

"If it helps keep Islanders active, healthy and happy, my government will support it."

Early announcements from the PC party have leaned heavily on easing the tax burden of Islanders.

A media statement sent out by the PCs on Wednesday afternoon pledged to raise the personal tax exemption to $12,000 while increasing the base amount of the low income tax reduction program from $17,000 to $20,000.

The PCs have also pledged to reduce small business taxes from their current rate of 3.5 per cent to 1 per cent.

On Wednesday, the Liberals pledged to reduce small business taxes to 2.5 per cent.

Twitter.com/stu_neatby

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