Dozens rally in Sydney for better health care

Jennifer MacDonald of Sydney, N.S., is calling for improvements to Nova Scotia's health system following the deaths of two women who died after experiencing lengthy waits for care at emergency departments in the province.  (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
Jennifer MacDonald of Sydney, N.S., is calling for improvements to Nova Scotia's health system following the deaths of two women who died after experiencing lengthy waits for care at emergency departments in the province. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

A small, but boisterous, crowd of about 50 people made its way through downtown Sydney, N.S., on Sunday to demand better health care for those who need it.

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

Last week, the Nova Scotia government announced changes that are meant to improve emergency room wait times, but march organizer Jennifer MacDonald is worried those changes aren't enough to fix long-standing problems.

"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 do the jobs?"

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

MacDonald said problems plaguing the health-care system will not be fixed overnight. But she said now is the time to begin taking real steps to address the challenges.

"It's not political," she said. "We need to organize and apply the pressure. There are nurses and paramedics that are afraid to speak out.

"So, I think people need to realize how desperate it's getting and get out there and try to find effective ways to organize."

On Sunday, a few dozen people showed up at the Civic Centre, where the march began, to voice their displeasure for things such as ER wait times, health-care staff shortages and lengthy waits for appointments, tests and other health-care procedures.

'We're losing friends and family members'

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

John Duffy of Sydney said he waited up to 12 hours to be seen by a doctor for an intestinal problem that he believes worsened over time. That's what motivated him to take part in the march.

"It's really important to let the government know how scared we are. And how critical this is – that we're losing friends and family members."

Terry MacKay of Sydney said she wanted to take part in the march to show support for families that are left questioning whether improved care would mean their loved one would be alive today.

"We're all so frustrated and don't feel we have any power, so … we're resorting to this, unfortunately," she said.

MacDonald said she hopes the march keeps pressure on the Nova Scotia government to find meaningful solutions.

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