HEALTH CARE KEY ISSUE
Progressive Conservative leader Dennis King has preempted a spring budget, along with the sitting of the spring P.E.I. legislature, with an early election call.
That means voters will go to the polls on April 3.
King announced the election call before a raucous audience of Progressive Conservative members on March 6 at the Winsloe United Church, located in his home district of Brackley-Hunter River.
“It may not come as a surprise to many of you, but earlier today I visited her honour, the lieutenant-governor. And Islanders will get to choose their government on April 3, 2023,” King said.
In a 30-minute speech before a jam-packed church hall, King repeatedly said his government had delivered more on issues like health care, housing and climate than any previous government.
King also said his first term in government was marked by crises, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 Dorian and 2022 Fiona storms, record inflation and last year's potato border dispute with the United States.
King also said a “quick update” conducted by his team that morning found his government had fulfilled most promises made in his party's 2019 election platform.
“Yes, we're the crisis government and we're proud to have been a great government in the face of difficult crises. But we've completed over 95 per cent of those promises,” King said.
King is the last of the 27 Progressive Conservative candidates to be officially nominated.
In an interview with reporters, King was asked why he was calling an early election after having previously promised to stick to the fixed October election date.
“I think we're at the fouryear mark, and it's time to have an election,” King said. “I think there's uncertainty in Ottawa, there could be a fall election. Part of the reason our election date was moved was because of the election dates in Ottawa.”
Liberal leader Sharon Cameron said her party plans to make health care its top issue in the election.
Cameron said Islanders have observed doctors leaving the province “almost on a weekly basis” and pointed to the 27,000 Island residents who lack a primary caregiver. Cameron said King, during his four years in office, has failed to outline a plan for how he intends to change or improve health care in the province.
“We have a premier and a minister of health ... who responds to nothing but shows up when the federal government has money to offer,” Cameron said. “An election is a forward-looking event. It's not a mandate for continued lack of transparency, lack of planning, lack of accountability.”
Green leader Peter BevanBaker said he did not believe the election could be boiled down to one issue. But he also said concerns about health care are the most common thing he is hearing at the doorsteps.
“But I'm also hearing about cost of living. I'm hearing about the housing crisis. There's a lot of people pissed off about how little protection this government has offered to our beaches and our rivers and waterways,” Bevan-Baker told SaltWire Network in an interview.
“But health care is absolutely