Healthcare’s the big ticket so far. Here’s what else happened in PEI election’s 1st week

Week 1 of the PEI provincial election is in the books and parties already have a barrelful of promises to sell Islanders on.

The issues that will take the most hold during this campaign are pretty clear. They include health care and doctor shortages; housings; the economy, inflation and the cost of living; environment and climate change; education and child care; and social programs.

All of these topics have been brought up so far, with mentions either sprinkled in or poured on campaign announcements.

But without question, the big talk of the week was health care. Just take a look at Wednesday morning, when the four main parties each made a health-care policy announcement.

Here’s some of the campaign promises related to health care from this week:

  • The PCs said they’d reduce the patient registry to zero (from more than 28,000) and pledged to go on a hiring spree for public and at-home care, adding more physician assistants, nurse practitioners and care providers as well as buying and staffing more ambulances.
  • The Greens said they’d open more public health clinics, increase mental health services, “remove political interference” in the health-care system and cut red tape to allow physician assistants to work on PEI
  • The Liberals said they’d offer much bigger incentives for Islanders studying medicine in other provinces to return home and work, and double the number of residency seats. They’d also have the premier health care minister for two years and have a dedicated minister for mental health and addictions.
  • The NDP said they’d bring down prescription costs by fighting for a national pharmacare program, while also focusing on cutting ambulance wait times and stopping hospital ER closures. They’d also create more long-term beds and improve senior care at home.

For the list of promises made in announcements and each party’s platform as they roll out, hop over to the 2023 promise tracker page.

Surprisingly, though, there was little to no mention of COVID-19 in any announcement. The closest thing to it was the Greens’ pledge to open more cough and fever clinics.

Another Week 1 talking point was the NDP becoming the first party to drop their full platform. It’s not costed, but the 40-page document covers affordability, the housing crisis, job creation, education, climate change and electoral reform.

We’re only a week in, so there’s much more campaigning to do and only so many parties can fit into their agendas.

Moving the supervised injection site ‘the big surprise’

An unexpected story was told of the moving location of the yet-to-be-opened supervised injection site from Belmont Street in Charlottetown.

At a public meeting on the issue Wednesday evening, all four candidates running in District 12: Charlottetown-Victoria Park agreed the proposed site was the wrong location.

View of 33 Belmont Street.
An unexpected story this week was talk of the moving location of the yet-to-be-opened supervised injection site from Belmont Street in Charlottetown. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

PC Leader Dennis King confirmed Thursday that if re-elected, he would change it.

“It’s been heard loud and clear from everybody that I think Belmont is not the proper place for this,” he said. “And we would agree with that.”

UPEI political scientist Peter McKenna said the “backtracking” on the supervised injection site was a shock to him.

“It’s pretty clear, obviously, that they were concerned about potential political fallout and how that would impact them in terms of the April election and decided to dramatically change course,” he said.

“That’s the big surprise.”

There was also news this week about candidates who are no longer with their parties.

On Monday night, at the same time the King announced the election, the Greens held a nomination meeting for District 13: Charlottetown-Brighton.

Incumbent Green Ole Hammarlund was challenged and lost the nomination — a “very rare” event at least, UPEI political scientist Don Desserud said. McKenna agreed.

Another political candidate, Jessica Simmonds, is no longer running for the Liberals in Charlottetown after questions were raised about her Indigenous heritage.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Simmonds said “Let me be clear: I am a woman of Indigenous heritage. Both my maternal great-grandparents were of Indigenous descent.”

What will the coming weeks bring?

When it comes to elections, provincial or otherwise, there’s usually some sort of wedge issue — basically a topic divisive enough to cause political candidates to verbally brawl over.

There isn’t one so far, but McKenna said the UPEI medical school has the potential to turn into a larger issue, with many details about the $120-million-plus project still needing some figuring out.

The Greens and Liberals both questioned the project this week, and both said they’d put the brakes on it if elected so they could study it even further.

McKenna is also waiting to see if land protection and ownership become important talking points in the coming days, especially following Fiona and the rock wall at Point Deroche that caused public outrage and questions around how to better protect PEI’s eroding shoreline.

“That could be a potential issue that’s going to grab people’s attention. Islanders are very sensitive about land and ownership and control,” he said.

“People weren’t very happy about the way that unfolded, and the regulatory decisions and cabinet intervention and approval of that project rubbed Islanders the wrong way.”

Similar Posts