There is an immediate need to improve our COVID-19 testing clinics. Islanders have been quick to respond to guidance provided by the CPHO on the need and requirement for testing. What has not been quick is the response by government to improve the testing facilities to meet the demand.
Despite it being nearly two years since the start of the pandemic, the province has not improved how it is managing the response of Islanders who are doing their part and getting tested.
I am calling on Premier King and Minister Hudson to immediately implement the following measures to improve testing on PEI:
- Make at-home tests freely available at public locations across the Island;
- Set up washroom facilities at every testing site;
- Adjust testing hours to allow for evening testing clinics, and;
- Provide shelter for Islanders waiting in line who walk to testing sites.
Many Islanders being tested at testing sites are being administered a rapid test. These tests can be done from the comfort and safety of home by individuals needing the test. Earlier this week, I called on Government to reevaluate its strategy for testing so that those needing a rapid test can do so from their own homes. This will relieve pressure on testing staff and allow clinics the opportunity to handle priority testing for Islanders requiring a PCR test.
Many Islanders are finding themselves waiting in line for hours with no access to washroom facilities. This is particularly difficult for young families, seniors, and those requiring quick access to washrooms. Government must immediately provide facilities for Islanders to use.
The hours clinics are open are inconvenient and leading to large groups attempting to be tested in a short amount of time. Government needs to improve the hours so we can accommodate the large numbers of Islanders needing to be tested, especially those who are unable to get tested during working hours.
Not every Islander has a vehicle. Currently, if you do not have a vehicle but require a test you have to find a way to the testing centre and then you must stand outside, regardless of the weather, waiting for a test. This wait is often hours long. Government must immediately provide suitable shelter for Islanders who are waiting for their COVID test.
Islanders have been faithful in following CPHO’s guidance. They have been consistent in their actions to do what is necessary immediately and without delay. Government has failed Islanders and the frontline staff who are doing this important testing work. Government often asks if it can do better and admits it can. This is an area where it must stop the rhetoric and actually do better.
Michele Beaton, MLA, Mermaid-Stratford
Official Opposition Critic for Health and Wellness