Nova Scotia

Dozens rally in Sydney for better health care

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. 

March organized following deaths of 2 Nova Scotia women who endured lengthy ER wait times

A woman holds a microphone on a march for health care in Sydney, N.S.
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)

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?"

A group of people marches through downtown Sydney on Sunday, Jan. 22nd to demand better health-care services.
Dozens of people walked the streets of downtown Sydney to voice concerns over the state of the health-care system. (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'

A group of people brought noisemakers and placards to voice their concern for the state of health care in Nova Scotia.
Sunday's march began outside the Civic Centre in Sydney. (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.




Erin Pottie


Erin Pottie is a CBC reporter based in Sydney. She has been covering local news in Cape Breton for 17 years. Story ideas welcome at