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PEI government’s refusal to act on health crisis is destroying health-care system
Opposition Green Caucus
February 7, 2023

PEI government’s refusal to act on health crisis is destroying health-care system

Hon. Peter Bevan-Baker
Leader of the Official Opposition Green Caucus
MLA New Haven-Rocky Point

As an MLA I get to hear a lot of stories from Islanders about their experiences. One of the most common topics I’ve been hearing about lately is healthcare. Each story is unique, but there are some very common threads throughout most of them.

I am told about incredibly long wait times—Islanders waiting hours, sometimes days, for their turn to get seen. I hear about the love, and sometimes pity, for the healthcare staff who are desperately trying to hold it all together. Finally, I hear pleas for change. I have never heard so many Islanders begging for drastic change within our healthcare system. They are scared. I am scared.

All of these stories I am hearing from Islanders are also being shared with Premier King and Health Minister Ernie Hudson. For the life of me I cannot understand how they can listen to these stories, while holding the power in their hands to make things better, and just choose not to.

Recently, we learned the Chair of the Health PEI Board, Derek Key, resigned. Mr. Key expressed his frustrations very plainly in his resignation letter to the Premier. He outlined concerns about Health PEI’s lack of independence from government. He said Health PEI, not the Department of Health, should be in charge of hiring and retaining healthcare workers.

My caucus and I have called for Health PEI independence for years. Having a healthcare system independent of politics is the best model for providing good healthcare to citizens. Three years ago my colleague Green MLA Trish Altass tried to improve the legislation governing Health PEI by giving them more independence. Premier King and his government said no. Every PC MLA voted against almost all of the improvements put forward.

Knowing all of this, I read with interest comments made by Minister Hudson on the recent resignation of Mr. Key.

The many challenges that Mr. Key refers to have burdened our province for years. As a matter of fact, he is not the first to leave the Health PEI Board over the lack of independence this Crown corporation should have. The entire board of Health PEI resigned back in 2018 when legislative changes brought in by the previous Liberal government severely limited Health PEI’s independence.

Premier King, like the Liberal and PC Premiers before him, wants to keep his control over healthcare on PEI. Healthcare is often voters number one concern and being able to pull the strings gives a politician a great advantage in the polls. It may give the politician an advantage, but it destroys the healthcare system, those who work within it, and the health of those who depend on it.

Premier King has been warned about this for the last four years – by healthcare workers, unions, patients, and the Official Opposition Green caucus. Even now, as we watch our healthcare workers burn out and our system crumble, he refuses to let go of that power.

Both Red and Blue have preferred to hang on tooth and nail to have control over major health care decisions for purely political reasons. When Minister Hudson says hiring in health care is “under control”, he’s not wrong: it is under the control of a government that favours political outcomes over those that would be best for the healthcare system, its workers, and Islanders as a whole.

Did you know Minister Hudson was the health minister for the entirety of Mr. Key’s career as Health PEI Board Chair? It seems the Minister has been completely absent in response to the concerns raised by the chair. In fact, Mr. Key identified these concerns at the Health PEI AGM in 2021 and again in 2022, yet it took a resignation letter before the minister would commit to having his department “delve into [the concerns], to have those discussions, to review.”

This complacent leadership is unacceptable. It will do nothing to get us out of this healthcare crisis.

For decades successive governments on PEI have recognised that the trajectory of health care was deeply worrisome. For decades each one has sat on their hands and watched the system unravel. We don’t need another study. We need a government that places Islanders’ healthcare above their own political gain.

The King government is not that.


The Opposition Green Caucus of Prince Edward Island provides a crucial role in the governing of our province. The caucus is made up of Green Party MLAs elected by Islanders.

We strive to offer informed and intelligent debate and proposals that are evidence-based and data-informed. Through respect and integrity, we seek to improve the work and efforts of government on behalf of all Islanders.

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