PEI

Opposition calls for expanded pandemic sick pay for medical travel

Green MLA Trish Altass is asking the provincial government to look at who is eligible for sick pay during the pandemic.

Trish Altass asks minister to pay Islanders who need to isolate after medical appointments

Green MLA Trish Altass said the surgeon shortages at the Prince County Hospital and reduced public transportation options during the pandemic make the need for extended sick pay to those in supporting roles greater. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Green MLA Trish Altass is asking the provincial government to look at who is eligible for sick pay during the pandemic.

Altass raised the issue in the legislature on Friday. 

"During outbreaks of COVID-19 in this province, paid sick leave provisions have been expanded," she said. 

"As we watch Nova Scotia struggle through this third wave, will you consider making this program accessible to all Islanders and support persons needing to self-isolate due to accessing off-Island medical treatments until at least September?"

Pay people to isolate, Greens say

Most people arriving to Prince Edward Island from outside the province are required to self-isolate for 14 days, with some exceptions. 

One of those is for off-Island medical appointments, where Islanders can be exempt from self-isolation requirements as long as they return to the province within 24 hours and follow a set of guidelines, which includes avoiding all non-essential activities outside of the medical visit.

But Altass said not everyone can go to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia and return within that time frame, which means they would have to self-isolate "for good reason."

"Some surgeries require days of recovery time before returning to P.E.I.," she said.

"For some, the procedure is such that they are unable to drive themselves, leaving many scrambling to find family or friends who can take time off work."

We can certainly take a look at that.— Matthew MacKay, economic development minister

During Friday's sitting, Altass also addressed the surgeon shortages at the Prince County Hospital and reduced public transportation options during the pandemic, making the need for extended sick pay to those in supporting roles greater.

"We can certainly take a look at that. I can go back to the department to get them to do some work on it," said Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Matthew MacKay, who has previously said the pandemic has highlighted the importance of sick pay.

"When we rolled out the million dollar fund, we didn't know what kind of uptake we were going to get."

MacKay said he would bring information back to the legislature, which sits again this week.

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola currently produces Island Morning on CBC Radio. She is a graduate of St. Thomas University's journalism program and grew up on P.E.I., where she is happy to now be a multi-platform reporter and producer. Got a story? Email nicola.macleod@cbc.ca

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