Cape Bretoners brave cold to stage protest over health care
Despite bitterly cold temperatures in Cape Breton on Thursday, protesters rallied in front of the island's largest hospital.
Many are frustrated with the state of health care and are calling on the province for help.
About one hundred people, holding signs and waving flags, under the watchful eye of security demonstrated their displeasure with the lack of health care services at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
“(Stephen) McNeil is just ignoring us,” said protester Brian Sheppard. “He's got to open up his eyes. Not only the Liberals, whoever gets in power. We need help in Cape Breton.”
Patients have reported wait times of up to 12 hours in recent weeks at the emergency department here.
Physicians are describing the situation as chaotic and overcrowded, which has sparked outraged from the community.
“Well, I hope they can open their eyes and see that we mean business, we mean business here,” said Anne Kuta, another protester. “We're forgotten about on this island.”
Brenda Tommie was another who joined Thursday’s protest.
“This is not a third world country and we should be getting better care than this,” Tommie said.
Out of the estimated crowd of 100 people today, there were not many politicians. As a matter of fact, we could only find one – local MLA Eddie Orrell.
“I think it's one of those things when you don't advertise it and you don't find out about it on time it's a tough thing for politicians to get here,” Orrell said. “The governing politicians, they should be listening.”
A spokesperson with the Nova Scotia Health Authority says they understand the community's frustrations and are continuing the recruiting process, in hopes of easing some of the pressure being felt by medical staff.
“We are well aware that our emergency departments and services are experiencing higher volumes and we continue to do the best we can to adapt and continue to provide the patient care as patients arrive,” said NSHA spokesperson Greg Boone.
Boone says the province is working on the redevelopment and expansion of facilities, which will take some time, but it seems many gathered here are fed up waiting.
Another a rally is being planned by a community group called Capers 4 Healthcare. They are planning sit-ins at the two provincial Liberal MLA offices in Cape Breton next week.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.