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P.E.I. premier faces health-care criticism inside and outside legislature


A small group health-care support staff rallied outside Prince Edward Island’s legislature for higher wages Thursday, after talks between the province and union representing health-care cleaners, cooks, and porters, among others, broke down.

Premier Dennis King went out to meet with them briefly before the legislature opened.

“They are demoralized,” said CUPE representative Lori MacKay to King. “Seventy per cent of the people on that survey told us they are considering, or have considered, leaving healthcare.”

CUPE's contact expired in 2023. P.E.I. health-care locals do not have the right to strike. They say 85 per cent of members struggle to make ends meet.

The province offered a 10.5 per cent raise over three years. CUPE is asking for a $10/hour increase over the same time.

“We want to be as fair as we possibly can. We’ve been dealing with a variety of different unions along the way, and we’ve been very, very fair,” said King. “Trying to meet our obligations as well as meet the realities of the cost of living, et cetera, and trying to keep wage parity within the region, so we’ll continue to do that.”

King didn’t get a better reception inside the legislature, challenged on his government’s Wednesday announcement of $25 million for 54 new long-term care beds in private nursing homes instead of public facilities.

“Until the books of the private long-term care facilities are fully open, there is no openness or accountability,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, P.E.I. Green MLA, as the legislature hooted around him. “Public dollars are being given to Tory friends with no way for opposition members or islanders, or islanders, to know how it is being spent."

King said keeping the elderly in hospital costs four times as much as in long-term care homes.

“The honourable member speaks so disparagingly about not only of the people who own these facilities, but the people who work within them,” said King. “It really, really, really pains me to see this tremendous fall from grace to someone I used to hold in the highest of regard.”

Much of that money is to bring private long-term care wages closer to the public sector, while outside public health-care and long-term care employees say they aren’t paid enough.

For more Prince Edward Island news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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