Dozens rally in Sydney for better health care

A small, but loud, crowd of about 50 people marched through Sydney, NS on Sunday to demand better healthcare for those in need.

The rally follows the recent deaths of two Nova Scotia women who waited hours for care at their local emergency rooms.

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Last week, the Nova Scotia government announced changes intended to improve emergency room wait times, but march organizer Jennifer MacDonald worries the changes won’t be enough to address long-term problems.

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“I mean we can have all the plans we want,” said MacDonald, a local piano instructor. “But if we don’t have an effective and timely retention and recruitment plan for doctors, nurses and paramedics, who is going to fill those jobs?”

People march through Sydney on Sunday, January 22, demanding better health care.
Dozens of people took to the streets of Sydney to express concern about the state of the health care system. (Erin Potty/CBC)

Macdonald said the problems affecting the health care system cannot be solved overnight. But now is the time to take real steps to face the challenges, she said.

“It’s not political,” she said. “We must organize and apply pressure. There are nurses and paramedics who are afraid to talk.

“So, I think people need to realize how desperate it is and get out there and try to find effective ways to organize.”

On Sunday, several dozen people showed up at the Civic Center, where the march began, to express their displeasure with ER wait times, health care staffing shortages and long waits for appointments, tests and other health care procedures.

‘We are losing friends and family members’

A crowd brought noisemakers and placards to voice their concerns about the state of health care in Nova Scotia.
Sunday’s march began outside Sydney’s Civic Centre. (Erin Potty/CBC)

John Duffy, from Sydney, said he had been waiting 12 hours to see a doctor for a bowel problem he believed was getting worse with time. That is what motivated him to participate in the march.

“It’s really important to let the government know how scared we are. How critical this is – we’re losing friends and family members.”

Sydney’s Terry McKay said enhanced care meant families who were questioning whether their loved one would be alive today wanted to take part in the march.

“We’re all very frustrated and we don’t feel empowered, so … unfortunately we’re going through this,” she said.

Macdonald said he hopes the walkout will pressure the Nova Scotia government to find meaningful solutions.

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