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PETER BEVAN-BAKER: Rising hospitalizations are showing the King government response to Omicron is flawed

After today’s briefing, it is becoming clear the King government’s response to rising cases of COVID in the province is flawed.

“Today the Premier said once again that he is following indicators to let us know whether or not we are on the right track,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition. “A quick look at those indicators proves that we are not. Case numbers, hospitalizations, and outbreaks in vulnerable populations are all increasing.”

Also during his comments, the Premier said that when it comes to this outbreak, he doesn’t know where we are.

“I am unsure how that can be the case, especially if the Premier is adamant that he is following the science,” said Bevan-Baker. “Can the Premier share with Islanders the information and modeling he is using to determine the appropriateness of his response to Omicron?”

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MICHELE BEATON: Statement on how to improve staffing concerns in long term care

As my colleague and Leader of the Official Opposition, Peter Bevan-Baker, pointed out this morning, we are facing a dangerous threat to our long-term care homes. This threat has the potential to harm Islanders who represent some of our most vulnerable population, senior citizens.

I agree with Peter that this government has done almost nothing to improve the situation. That is both intolerable and heartbreaking. In fact, there are some things that can be done right now – today – that can go a long way towards helping the situation.

First, the government can offer staff on understaffed units pay incentives. For example, a unit requires eight staff members to be fully staffed. If one person cannot make it in for the shift, the amount of wages for that missed person would be divided up by the staff that were available for the shift.

Secondly, the government can make sure childcare at or near Island hospitals and long-term care facilities is available and covered. This is especially important given schools are out and families are in need of help arranging care for children.

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PETER BEVAN-BAKER: Island Seniors are at risk due to challenges in Long Term Care

 The COVID pandemic has highlighted serious challenges in our long-term care systems. Prince Edward Island is not immune to these threats and it is critical that the King Conservatives do not fall into the trap of dismissing the threats as other Conservative governments across Canada have.

“I have been hearing from both family members and staff at long-term care facilities who are telling me that the level of care is falling to deeply concerning levels,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition. “This is a direct result of a lack of investment in long-term care by this government.”

Family members have shared that there is often only one staff person available during a shift to provide care to all residents on a particular floor or wing of a long-term care facility.

“Recently a family member reached out to tell me that over the holidays staffing was so low in the long-term care home their loved one was in that residents were not taken out of bed for days at a time,” said Bevan-Baker. “This is unacceptable and is absolutely heartbreaking.”

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PETER BEVAN-BAKER: Minister Ernie Hudsons unacceptable absence during the Covid Crisis

Prince Edward Island is facing the biggest threat to our healthcare capacity since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Islanders are anxious and are asking many important questions about how prepared we are to face this unprecedented rise in cases on our small Island. This is a time we should be hearing from the person in charge of our healthcare system but for some unexplained reason, the Minister of Health is nowhere to be found.

Every other province in Canada has regularly heard from their Minister of Health. During briefings these Ministers provided updates about responses to the pandemic, outlining plans and providing scientific evidence showing their response is appropriate and adequate to meet the pandemic confidently. PEI’s Minister of Health Ernie Hudson is conspicuously and embarrassingly absent from our health briefings.

The King Conservatives have major problems in health. We are already struggling to maintain services in healthcare and the recent rise in cases is threatening to collapse our already fragile system. In today’s briefing, we learned CPHO is using national data modeling to determine a response to COVID here in PEI. Do we have the capacity on the Island to meet the increased demand Omicron will put on our healthcare system?

 

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LYNNE LUND: Families, students and teachers need more than empty platitudes from the Education Minister

Statement by MLA Lynne Lund on empty platitudes offered by the Education Minister at recent COVID briefing


During yesterday’s COVID briefing, I was disappointed that the Minister of Education only managed to offer platitudes for the challenges experienced by families, students, and teachers during the last two years of the pandemic.

Teachers and parents have been quite clear in speaking about their questions, fears, and anxieties over a safe return to school as we deal with the Omicron variant of COVID. Yesterday was an opportunity for the Minister to speak directly and plainly to Islanders about what plans she has developed to ensure the safety of every person involved in our education system. For some reason, the Minister passed on the chance to give a confident answer to those concerns.

A safe learning environment has been identified as priority number one by teachers, parents, and caregivers. Yet, the Minister has not made this a priority.

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PETER BEVAN-BAKER: To be kind, the Premier needs to provide clarity on COVID

Statement from Honourable Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, on the lack of communication and action during recent outbreak of COVID

The Premier and his government have shown a distinct lack of clarity and openness in their communication around the latest outbreak of COVID in the province. This is a worrisome trait that has only gotten worse.

We are at a point in the pandemic that is new territory for Prince Edward Island. We are breaking records with new case counts and as of yesterday’s briefing we have three hospitalizations due to COVID and a further five patients in hospital who have contracted COVID. The situation is now worse than it’s been at any other point in the pandemic.

Islanders are rightfully frightened, confused and worried. They need and deserve clear and consistent leadership. What they don’t need is the unclear and unkind manner in which the King Conservatives are handling communications around how to manage the spread of COVID in Island communities.

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As Islanders face uncertainty this holiday season, will this government act now to support Islanders while also planning for the future?

Charlottetown - Islanders are facing a lot of uncertainty and anxiety with the rising number of COVID cases in the province. Now is the time for government to step up and provide immediate supports to all Islanders during this difficult time.

“This is not a time to be close-fisted in helping Islanders,” said Trish Altass, Official Opposition Critic for Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture. “It’s time for this government to initiate supports for Islanders instead of hoping the federal government will do the heavy lifting.”

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PETER BEVAN-BAKER: Tried, tested, and tired but not defeated

Last year I wrote a blog looking back at the year which I titled A year unlike any other. It ended like this:

As we approach the shortest day of the year, I am reminded of ceremonies celebrated by so many religions and cultures around the winter solstice. The darkest days of the year begin to fall away behind us, and we start emerging back towards the light. I hope that in our journey through COVID, the darkest days are also behind us, and we will emerge to a brighter year ahead. I also hope the strains caused by the pandemic will soon ease.

Could I have been more wrong? Exactly a year later the strains of living through a global pandemic are still very much with us. Indeed, the unrelenting presence of living with restrictions 12 months later makes this holiday season perhaps harder to bear than the last.

I wrote a column many years ago about the Statue of Liberty that has for over a century greeted immigrants arriving by sea. She holds a torch to enlighten the world and is an icon of the promised freedoms of a new life in a new place. In my piece, I suggested that Lady Liberty should really have a companion sculpture beside her called the Statue of Responsibility. A healthy society needs to embrace both freedoms and obligations: to understand that being a good citizen in any community is about finding a balance between individual liberties and collective responsibilities. I am encouraged by how many Islanders understand this dynamic, and a big part of our ongoing success these last two years comes down to our willingness to make personal sacrifices and to contribute to a group effort.

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Government needs to improve COVID-19 testing clinic services

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.

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MICHELE BEATON: Silencing healthcare workers is damaging Islanders’ health

Since becoming the critic for health and wellness I have discovered two things about the working conditions of our healthcare professionals. These need to be acknowledged and addressed if we are to see any improvement.

First, I learned some healthcare workers are carrying unsafe workloads and working in unsafe environments. Secondly, I learned they are being prevented from speaking up about these problems because they have been forced to sign a confidentiality agreement (often called an NDA) with their employer.

I want to walk you through these two things to illustrate the problem and suggest a way forward. Ultimately it is in the power of the Minister of Health and Wellness to make the changes required to create a safe work environment for our healthcare workers.

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