Police expect peaceful protest tonight

Charlottetown police say they don't expect any trouble at this evening's rally at Province House.
Police in Charlottetown expect a peaceful protest in front of the legislature tonight.

Charlottetown police say they don't expect any trouble at Tuesday evening's rally at Province House.

People opposed to the closures of the Souris and Alberton dialysis centres have organized the rally, but a number of other groups opposed to recent government cuts and decisions are also expected.

Police have been in contact with the organizers and have informed them about rules for the gathering, Chief Gary McGuigan said.

He said police will be monitoring the situation.

Residents of Eastern Kings County will be bussed to Province House while MLAs are inside at an evening sitting of the legislature.

Organizers, hoping hundreds of Islanders will show up, have taken out ads in local papers and have mailed information directly to residents. 

Souris Mayor David Macdonald is among the residents of rural P.E.I. who are making their way to Province House tonight.

He and dialysis patient Nathan Bushey are leading the effort to convince government not to close the dialysis unit at the local hospital.

"It's just a devastating decision to patients," Bushey told CBC News, "It's going to increase costs to health care and it just makes no sense at all."

The rally will begin at Peakes Quay and will march up Great George Street to Province House at 7 p.m., just in time for the evening session of the legislature.

But dialysis service is not the only issue that has people protesting.

Police expect people to gather at tonight's protest to take a stand on other issues such as the proposed highway in Bonshawthe school in Souris, and the HST

MacDonald said he is concerned some of those protesters might draw attention away from the dialysis issue.

Province struggling with rising health care costs

The number of dialysis patients on P.E.I. is expected to double over the next three years.

The province has updated dialysis units in Charlottetown and Summerside, and had announced its intentions to close units in rural hospitals.

But Health minister Doug Currie said he is taking a second look at that.

"We basically have already made a statement publicly that we have deferred the decision to take a more comprehensive look at our decision," Currie said.

"The challenge is with these types of decisions we're seeing intense growth, intense demand."

Charlottetown resident Wendy Budgeon told CBC News she thinks the province should leave dialysis treatment options alone. 

"Now I think it's just a whole series of silly, silly things, this government is doing," she said, "They have issues with everything they lay their hands on and dialysis is only one of them."