Tag Archives: P.E.I.

Ontario hospitals call for more lockdowns as COVID-19 restrictions take effect in Sask., ease in P.E.I.

The latest:

Canada reported more than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time on Thursday as provinces stepped up efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Of Thursday’s 7,008 new infections, 2,432 of them are in Ontario — a single-day record. The province also saw 23 more deaths.

The surging cases prompted the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) on Thursday to call for a four-week lockdown in every public health unit where there is an infection rate of 40 per 100,000 people or higher in order to protect their health-care systems.

“Ontario remains firmly caught in the grasp of a major second wave of COVID-19. Daily infection is now above 2,000 new cases per day. Hospitalization is increasing rapidly, as is the occupancy of intensive care units,” the OHA said in a statement.

WATCH | Toronto doctor shares powerful story of COVID-19 patients:

Dr. Michael Warner says the numbers of deaths are overwhelming, but behind each statistic is a real person with a grieving family who cannot be with them in their final moments. 6:21

At the province’s daily news conference Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said he appreciates the OHA’s input, and that he talks to hospital CEOs every day. Ford did not, however, commit to any further lockdown measures.

“It’s very, very concerning, the situation we’re facing right now,” Ford said. “Right now, everything is on the table. We always take the advice from the medical experts.”

Ford also said he was not considering any sort of a curfew, which has been seen in some places in the world particularly hard hit by the virus.

However, when asked about specific decisions the government is considering to stem the tide of cases, Ford repeatedly answered “everything is on the table.”

WATCH | ‘Everything is on the table’ to combat surge, says Ontario premier:

There are many things to consider before Ontario will tighten its lockdown of the province to slow the spread of the coronavirus, said Premier Doug Ford. But he said he will not make a ‘snap’ judgment about which course to take. 1:34

Meanwhile, Quebec is preparing to open another 21 COVID-19 vaccination sites across the province by Monday in addition to two that opened earlier this week at long-term care homes in Montreal and Quebec City.

That province registered 1,855 new cases and 22 more deaths on Thursday.

There are also more than 1,000 people in hospital with the virus for the first time since June.

WATCH | Bodycam video offers rare glimpse into Quebec ICU:

Three nurses at Quebec City’s Enfant-Jésus hospital open a window on the front lines of fight against the coronavirus and the people who are waging it. 2:16

In Saskatchewan, new restrictions took effect on Thursday as the province reported 238 new cases and seven deaths.

Under the new measures, in place until at least Jan. 15, residents can no longer have guests in their homes and outdoor socializing is capped at 10 people. 

Starting Saturday, bingo halls and casinos must also close, and personal care services, such as hairdressers, must reduce their capacity to half. Retailers have until Christmas Day before they also need to drop to 50 per cent capacity. Larger stores will be limited to 25 per cent.

WATCH | Sask. hospitals overloaded even as cases decline:

Daily COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan are declining, but hospitals and ICUs in the province are overloaded. All the while, many residents are growing frustrated with what they call mixed messages and contradictory restrictions. 2:02

A Statistics Canada report released Thursday says 97 per cent of Canadians surveyed in September reported they wore a mask in public when physical distancing was difficult.

The analysis, part of the Canadian Community Health Survey, also found three quarters would get a COVID-19 vaccine when available with the willingness highest in Prince Edward Island and lowest in Alberta.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 6:20 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 488,638, with 76,310 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 13,916.

British Columbia saw 673 new COVID-19 cases and 21 additional deaths on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna has fired some of its employees for breaking a social responsibility contract after health officials announced that 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been linked to the resort. 

Alberta announced 1,571 new cases and a single-day high of 30 more deaths.

The figures come as Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the province is expanding rapid testing to long-term care facilities, rural hospitals and urban homeless shelters. Shandro also said a new field hospital being set up at the University of Alberta’s Butterdome in Edmonton will be operational by January, but that it remains a last-ditch contingency.

A person wearing a face mask walks toward the University of Alberta Butter Dome in Edmonton on Thursday. The facility is being turned into a field hospital to help with COVID-19 patients. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba reported 221 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the lowest single-day increase in infections since 103 were registered on Nov. 3. The province also announced 14 more deaths related to the virus.

Nova Scotia added six new cases, bringing the province’s active caseload to 50.

New Brunswick, recorded six new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Southern Victoria High School in Perth-Andover has closed for two days after someone received a positive test result.

WATCH | N.B. chief medical officer urges residents to follow rules during holidays:

The province’s chief medical officer says she worries gatherings and non-essential travel could lead to a rise in cases of COVID-19. 2:51

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The sources of those infections are unknown, according to the daily update provided by the province’s department of health, and an investigation is ongoing.

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison have announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including larger gatherings, more visitors in long-term care homes and a resumption of organized sports. The announcement comes as the province reported one new case.

In the North, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories registered one new case each. Meanwhile, Yukon announced the territory has added more school buses and will implement new mask rules during bus rides in order to facilitate safe transportation for students in the upcoming school year.

What’s happening around the world

As of late Thursday, more than 74.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide with more than 42.1 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.

In Europe, Poland announced a “national quarantine” from Dec. 28 to Jan. 17 as the country is reporting about 10,000 new cases per day.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski says the restrictions will involve a 10-day quarantine for international arrivals, the closure of hotels, ski slopes and shopping centres and stores — except for those providing basic needs, such as food and medicine.

In Asia, South Korea added more than 1,000 infections to its coronavirus caseload for the second straight day amid growing fears that the virus is spreading out of control in the greater capital area.

Nearly 800 of the 1,014 new cases were reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health officials have raised the alarm about a looming shortage in hospital capacities. 

Pedestrians wearing masks are seen at a shopping district in Tokyo on Thursday. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

In Africa, a second wave of infections is hitting the continent’s West and Central regions, and experts are warning it could be worse than the first as cooler weather descends on a region where most countries cannot afford a vaccine.

Nigeria, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo and Democratic Republic of Congo are all at or near record levels of infection, data compiled by Reuters shows. Infections in Senegal are also rising fast.

In the Americas, California health authorities are reporting a one-day record of 379 coronavirus deaths and more than 52,000 new confirmed cases. 

The staggering new figures mean the most populous state in the U.S. has seen more than 1,000 deaths in the last five days and nearly 106,000 cases in just two days. Many of the state’s hospitals are now running out of capacity to treat the severest cases.

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CBC | Health News

As COVID-19 cases rise, N.L. and P.E.I. exit Atlantic bubble for at least 2 weeks

The Atlantic bubble is no more.

Both Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I are exiting the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks as COVID-19 cases rise in parts of the region.

Newfoundland Premier Andrew Furey said the province will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in the other Atlantic provinces to see if the two-week break needs to be extended. Travel to and from Newfoundland and Labrador will only be for essential reasons, he said.

“The Atlantic Bubble has been a source of pride … but the situation has changed,” Furey said at a news conference.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King delivered a similar message during a nearly simultaneous news conference, saying his government would re-evaluate over the next two weeks.

King said the changing epidemiology in the region was concerning, “and it forces us to use what I believe are the tools in our limited toolbox to do everything we can to avoid an outbreak here in P.E.I.”

He said that given the province’s small size, it wouldn’t take much for its health-care system to become overwhelmed.

Atlantic bubble established July 3

Newfoundland’s heightened travel restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday, and P.E.I.’s come into effect Monday at midnight.

Since July 3, residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I and Newfoundland and Labrador were able to travel relatively freely across each other’s borders without quarantining.

COVID-19 case numbers in all the Atlantic provinces were low throughout the summer and fall, but that began to change last week in parts of the region.

New Brunswick tightened restrictions in Moncton and Saint John last week as cases rose, and the province reported its highest ever single-day case count on Saturday with 23 new cases. As of Sunday, that province had a total of 77 active cases. 

Nova Scotia also started recording a spike in cases last week and public health confirmed there is community spread, with most transmission happening in the Halifax area. As of Sunday’s reporting, the province had a total of 44 known active cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador is currently reporting 23 active cases — including two new cases announced Monday — and P.E.I has two, with the latest one reported at Monday’s news conference.

No plans to burst N.S.-N.B. bubble

In a news conference Monday afternoon, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said the change will not affect New Brunswick’s rules.

He said he and the other Atlantic premiers held a teleconference last night when they discussed the decision.

“We certainly understand the situation that Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. are in, and their concerns with our current situation in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia,” he said.

Still, Higgs said he and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil have decided not to burst the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick bubble for now.

He said most cases in Nova Scotia are in the Halifax region. He said there has been a focus on testing there, and people in the Halifax area are being encouraged to not travel outside of the region.

The Atlantic bubble was lauded as a success throughout the summer and fall when COVID-19 case numbers were low. Numbers started rising again last week in parts of the region, causing Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. to pull out of the bubble. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Higgs said enforcing an isolation requirement for Nova Scotia would not be a good use of resources.

“We want to keep our resources deployed along our northern borders between New Brunswick and Quebec, and to enhance our activity along the border between Maine and New Brunswick,” he said.

“We’re aligned in containing this in Nova Scotia and in New Brunswick independently, and I think we’re best served to ensure that we each follow our own protocols.”

He said any New Brunswickers travelling to P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador, including for work, should contact the government in the two provinces to see how the changes will affect them.

Higgs also said the change does not affect New Brunswickers coming home after working in P.E.I. or Newfoundland and Labrador.

While the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border remains open, Higgs still urged New Brunswickers to avoid non-essential travel. That message was also in a news release from the Council of Atlantic Premiers on Monday morning, which advised caution while travelling within the Atlantic bubble.

The office of Premier Stephen McNeil confirmed Monday that travellers from all other Atlantic provinces can still enter Nova Scotia without quarantining.  


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CBC | Health News

P.E.I. to host Canadian pro soccer league season starting Aug. 13

The Canadian Premier League’s eight teams will play a shortened 2020 season in Charlottetown, league commissioner David Clanachan confirmed Wednesday. 

The professional league, in its second season, was supposed to begin play in April but the season was delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The new shortened season, which is being dubbed the Island Games, will begin Aug. 13 at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Canadian Premier League commissioner David Clanachan says all players and staff have been tested once for coronavirus already and all results came back negative. (HO-Canadian Premier League-Darren Goldstein/The Canadian Press)

“We’re going to become visitors on the Island for the better part of two months and we’re much much looking forward to it,” Clanachan said.The eight teams in the league are the HFX Wanderers FC (Halifax), Atlético Ottawa, York9 FC (York Region, near Toronto), Forge FC (Hamilton), Valour FC (Winnipeg), FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC (Calgary) and Pacific FC (Greater Victoria).  

The Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown will act as home base for about 300 players and staff from the eight Canadian Premier League teams, starting in August. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Players and staff, about 300 in total that include some from Europe and Mexico, are currently self-isolating in their teams’ home cities, Clanachan said. 

They have been tested once for coronavirus and all results came back negative, he said.  They will be tested again before they come and twice when they arrive on P.E.I. Aug. 8, he said.

When they arrive on P.E.I., they self-isolate for five days, Clanachan said. They will be staying at the Delta Hotel in Charlottetown, one team per floor.

I’m sure [Islanders]will respect the fact that we’ve put a lot of work into it and we’re doing it the right way.— David Clanachan, Canadian Premier League commissioner

P.E.I. has had 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19. All are considered recovered. Clanachan said he realizes Islanders may be wary about 300 people coming into the province, but said the league has put protocols in place to ensure the health and safety of Island residents and CPL staff alike.

“I think Islanders, they’ll probably debate it — sometimes in the pub, sometimes in the restaurants — but I’m sure they will respect the fact that we’ve put a lot of work into it and we’re doing it the right way.”

Winner earns 2021 CONCACAF berth

The season will begin with each team playing each other once. The top four teams will advance to a second-round group phase. The top two clubs out of the group stage will then play a single match to determine the championship at a date in September to be announced later. The champion will be awarded the North Star Shield and a 2021 CONCACAF league berth.


All games will be played in a sequestered environment outside without fans.

All matches will be broadcast exclusively via the Canadian Premier League’s media partner OneSoccer.

Langford, B.C., and Moncton had also been in the running to host the CPL season.

‘Best place in the country’ to host league: MacKay

Many local businesses, the government of P.E.I. and the City of Charlottetown lobbied to have the league come to the Island.

“We believe Prince Edward Island is the best place in the country to safely host the Canadian Premier League and we are so proud to receive this special opportunity,” said P.E.I. Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Minister Matthew MacKay in a news release. 

“In these uncertain times, we are committed to doing everything we can to stimulate our provincial economy while following the mandated public health protocols, and market our Island as a premier travel destination so that when the time is right, we can welcome visitors to Prince Edward Island.”

More from CBC P.E.I.:

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How ‘absolute terror’ led this P.E.I. man to start a podcast about mental health

Feeling alone is a common theme on Matt Burke’s podcast about mental health.

The 24-year-old started Matty’s Mental Health Podcast about 10 months ago and since then has recorded 21 episodes in his Charlottetown home, covering a wide range of topics including his own story.

“The purpose of the podcast is to provide a platform where people can share their stories with mental health.”

He said a lot of people feel like they have to fight their mental health battles on their own, and through the podcast, he wants to show them they don’t have to. 

On the podcast he has spoken to people about things such as depression, anxiety and how concussions can affect a person’s mental health.

‘I just knew right away that I was just looking to make a positive out of it somehow,’ says Matt Burke, of his own experiences. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“I’ve had counsellors on there. They talked about mental health from their side,” he said. 

“A lot of interesting people. I’ve learned a lot from them.”

Burke said he is not a mental health professional “by any stretch of the imagination,” but he has had his own struggles with mental health and revealed his story on Episode 9.

‘Absolute terror’

When Burke was 20, his girlfriend took her own life.

The couple was having a difficult time and while he was out one night his cellphone died as the two were texting back and forth.

I just knew right away that I was just looking to make a positive out of it somehow.— Matt Burke

The following morning he was cleaning off his car to go check on her when her parents pulled into the driveway and told him his girlfriend had killed herself.

“It was just absolute terror,” Burke said.

He couldn’t wrap his head around it. He was a mess and he got sick to his stomach.

“I completely lost it. I went into a rage. I punched the ground. I went into my house and I punched holes in the wall,” he said.

Mark Burke, left, was on the latest episode of the podcast. Mark opened up about playing hockey on P.E.I. and how concussions affected his mental health. (Matty’s Mental Health Podcast/Youtube)

His girlfriend’s family insisted he come with them for the day and he went. He said they talked him down from his emotions.

“I was lucky they took me in right away and treated me as family,” he said.

Now, with the podcast he is hoping to provide similar support by discussing mental health with others.

When you do tell your story it really does help.— Mark Burke

“I just knew right away that I was just looking to make a positive out of it somehow,” he said. 

“Like ‘How can I help? How can I move this forward? Take this experience and help somebody else that was in the same situation she was in,'” Burke said.

He said he wasn’t sure what form that help would take until he found podcasting and decided to start inviting Islanders to discuss mental wellness.

‘Anxious, like constantly’

Mark Burke — no relation to Matt — was on the latest episode of the podcast. He played hockey on P.E.I. for about 16 years, from squirts to junior, he said.

In December of 2016 he suffered a concussion and returned to the ice after two weeks. Two-and-a-half months later he suffered another concussion. That’s when he realized they were taking a toll on his mental health.

In December of 2016 Mark Burke suffered a concussion playing hockey and returned to the ice after two weeks. (Debbie Hall)

“Anxious, like constantly. I’d go through bouts of depression from it. Just almost felt sort of stuck in a fight or flight state,” Mark said. 

“Mood swings would randomly happen. I would go from somewhat happy, to mad as crazy over something silly to almost being in tears and that could all happen in a span of 15 minutes.”

While he was experiencing this, he was going through changes in his life and had just moved out on his own, so he attributed the mental health issues to that.

He said he didn’t really think his mental health was impacted by the concussions until he heard former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas talk about how his mental health was affected by concussions.

Mark only told his parents about a month ago and the family went to see a mental health professional together.

“He referred me to a neurologist, so we are in line for that,” Mark said. 

Mark also struggles with small talk following the concussions and appearing on the podcast was a way of addressing that issue.

“That felt real good, just to kind of air it all out,” he said. “I got to keep moving forward and make myself better every day to kind of set a good example — that when you do tell your story it really does help.”

Mark said he was able to relate to Matt knowing he also struggled with mental health.

‘Tornado of emotions’

The year after his girlfriend died Matt was in shock. He couldn’t sleep or focus.

“It is kind of a tornado of emotions,” he said. “You know, a big thing for me, I started therapy right away and that was huge for me. That probably saved my life.”

Matt said just talking about what was going through his mind helped.

I think by them sharing it’ll just benefit anyone who listens.— Matt Burke 

One thing he started to do, that he still does, is go on hikes with his dogs for hours at a time.

“I just work through everything that is going on in my mind,” he said. “It’s kind of like a meditation time, and I always felt a little bit better.”

Matt said he hopes his girlfriend would be proud of the work he is doing now.

He said if what he’s doing helps one person, “it’ll be worth it for me.”

Gaining confidence from others

Ronnie McPhee, a community liaison for the city of Charlottetown, was a recent guest on the podcast.

McPhee said listening to Matt and his guests open up about their mental health troubles inspired him and gave him the confidence to take his turn at the microphone.

Ronnie McPhee, left, says he was inspired by hearing Matt and his guests open up about their mental health troubles, and that made him want to open up too. (Matty’s Mental Health Podcast/Youtube)

When McPhee was younger he struggled with his mental health, and at one point, he spent time in the hospital.

“It gave me the opportunity to put myself in a comparable setting to other people who had challenges like this,” he said.

“It just showed me how I could offer up my advantages to support others.”

The main thing I try to do is get out of the way and let them tell their story.— Matt Burke

Being able to talk and help others deal with their mental health struggles has helped him cope with his own, McPhee said.

“That was always a good feeling to me. That’s kind of how I found my way of coping with the challenges I kind of grew up with,” he said.

Guests keep coming

Burke hasn’t had to look for guests very often because many people have asked if they can be part of the podcast.

“I’m just like honoured to do it and I am so thankful for all the guests that reach out to me,” he said. “I know how hard it is to tell your story.”

Bringing these things to light and being more compassionate about it is 100 per cent the way to go in the future.— Matt Burke

He said organizing a traumatic story, to “go back to that point and really dive into it,” can be difficult.

“The main thing I try to do is get out of the way and let them tell their story and I think by them sharing it’ll just benefit anyone who listens who is going through the same thing,” he said.

“And even people who aren’t going through the same thing, just to understand what people go through.”

One takeaway he hopes listeners walk away with is that mental health issues are common.

Burke says he hopes his girlfriend would be proud of the work he is doing now, by helping others tell their mental health stories. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Having lost someone very close to suicide, Matt does worry about some of the people he interviews.

“I never try to force anyone to come on,” Burke said. “I want to make sure they are in a good enough place to come on.”

When referring to his girlfriend’s death, Burke said “mental illness took her life.”

He said in the last few years the discussion around mental health has become more compassionate.

“Bringing these things to light and being more compassionate about it is 100 per cent the way to go in the future.”

Matty’s Mental Health Podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

Anyone needing emotional support, crisis intervention or help with problem solving in P.E.I. can contact The Island Helpline at 1-800-218-2885, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information about mental health services on P.E.I., find resources from Health PEI here, or from the Canadian Mental Health Association P.E.I. Division here.

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Proposed P.E.I. vaping bill seeks to strictly regulate products, raise age limit to 21

P.E.I. could soon have some of the strictest vaping laws in the country.

A private members bill from PC MLA Cory Deagle passed second reading in the P.E.I. Legislature Tuesday night. The bill would restrict where vaping products can be sold, ban certain flavours, and also raise the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21.

Deagle said he wants to make vaping products less accessible to young people, especially teenagers.

“These substances, you become addicted to nicotine. In some cases there four or five, 20 times the amount of nicotine in an e-cigarette than there is in a regular cigarette,” said Deagle.

“Teachers, principals have told me it’s an epidemic in schools. And obviously with our youth tobacco rate double the national average and seeing a 74 per cent increase in vaping amongst youth in Canada, I think we have to do something.”

The vote on the second reading was unanimous, with MLAs from all parties speaking in support of it. The discussion included the possibility of new taxes being introduced in the spring budget.

If the bill passes third reading and becomes law, P.E.I. would have the highest age restriction in the country.

Deagle said the bans on flavoured products would not come into effect right away. Those would be done through regulations in cabinet, which he said would likely be a year-long process.

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22-year-old P.E.I. woman having hysterectomy in hopes of ending endometriosis pain

Rebecca McCourt says she’s been in pain nearly every day, since she was 12 years old. 

When she was 14, McCourt had surgery for what her family and her doctors suspected was appendicitis. 

Doctors removed her appendix, but the surgery did not end her pain and not long after, in 2011, she was diagnosed with endometriosis. 

“At this point, I’m ready to move on with my life,” McCourt says. 

Endometriosis is a disease where endometrial tissue, which lines the uterus, is found in other parts of the body, said Dr. Christina Williams, with the B.C. Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis. She specializes in pelvic ultrasounds and surgical management of gynecological conditions.

I feel like I was really … robbed of my teen and young adult years.— Rebecca McCourt

If the endometrial tissue is found outside of the uterus it’s most commonly found within the pelvic area, but in some cases it has been found in other areas of the body, Williams said. 

The symptoms can include severe pain with periods, chronic pelvic pain, pain during intercourse and pain with bowel movements — especially during periods, she said.

Since 2011, McCourt said she has undergone eight laparoscopy procedures, during which doctors have burned off the painful, errant tissue from her pelvic area to offer her temporary relief. However, the tissue, McCourt said, always seems to come back. 

To recover from these procedures, McCourt has often been forced to take time off from school. 

That’s in addition to about a week per month that she’s been forced to take off to cope with pain and fatigue. 

“I feel like I was really … robbed of my teen and young adult years,” she said. 


In addition to the growth of endometrial tissue in her pelvic area, McCourt said, another symptom is ovarian cysts.

Each year, McCourt said she can expect between three and four cyst ruptures. These are sharp, painful episodes where cysts, which present on one or both ovaries, rupture and often result in hospital visits and pain medication. 

Now, McCourt and her doctors are taking the next step in trying to find her relief. The 22-year-old is scheduled to have a hysterectomy on Sept. 4. McCourt is also having both her fallopian tubes and one ovary removed.

“A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterine body,” Williams said.  

McCourt says she’s endured eight surgeries related to her endometriosis since she was 14 years old. (Submitted by Rebecca McCourt)

When a hysterectomy is considered for endometriosis pain the uterus and the endometriosis found outside the uterus should be removed together according to SOGC recommendations, she said. 

Hysterectomies as a stand-alone treatment are not guaranteed to relieve patients of pain caused by endometriosis, according to Williams. 

McCourt said the decision to have a hysterectomy was made over a long time, with years of ongoing discussion between her and her doctor.

I don’t think the general population has even a general understanding of the disease and what it does.— Rebecca McCourt

During that time, McCourt also went through several hormone treatments including oral contraceptives and hormone injections. 

When it comes to treating endometriosis, Williams said, hysterectomies are not the first line of treatment. 

“Most gynecologists agree that hormones should be used first because they’re reversible. And that’s the recommendation from the SOGC.” 

McCourt wants people to know her story, to understand how difficult it’s been. 

“It’s important to have these conversations because I don’t think the general population has even a general understanding of the disease and what it does,” McCourt said. 

In the future, she said she’d like to see increased research, education, and awareness of endometriosis. 

No cure 

Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis and it is not considered to be a life-threatening condition, said Philippa Bridge-Cook, of the Endometriosis Network of Canada. 

The organization has been providing support and education for people living with endometriosis across the country since 2012.

“There was a real need for it because nobody was doing that sort of thing in Canada,” she said. 

About one in 10 females has endometriosis, but it can also occur in the transgender community and in extremely rare cases, even men, Bridge-Cook and Williams agreed. 

A lot of women, at first, don’t realize that what they’re experiencing is abnormal— Philippa Bridge-Cook

Most women with endometriosis can expect to see several doctors over many years before a diagnosis is made, Bridge-Cook said. 

“It’s not that there’s a complete lack of research in Canada or around the world, but if you look at the cost of endometriosis in terms of health-care costs, lost work productivity and all of the costs all together it’s comparable to other chronic diseases,” Bridge-Cook said.

This diagram illustrates endometrial tissue (the purple spots), found outside the uterus. (Submitted by Christina Williams)

‘Women’s pain being dismissed’

“Pain with periods is a major symptom of endometriosis. A lot of women don’t know what pain is normal for a period … and there isn’t a lot of education,” she said. 

“There’s a lot of studies about women’s pain being dismissed.”

I am happy that I’m getting it done. But at the same time it’s almost like a grieving process.— Rebecca McCourt

Williams said she’s noticed a positive shift in research around the disease.

“So I believe there is room for improvement. But at least in the last 10 years, we’ve seen a definite increase in interest in learning where the pain is coming from,” Williams said. 

‘Urgent for me’

“It’s not [considered] urgent. It feels like it’s urgent for me but it’s not seen that way,” McCourt said. 

While McCourt is looking forward to the prospect of pain relief with her upcoming surgery, she said the decision has been “bittersweet.”

By undergoing the procedure McCourt will not be able to have her own biological children.

“I am happy that I’m getting it done. But at the same time it’s almost like a grieving process,” she said. “But it’s worth it, if it’s going to help.”

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P.E.I. woman spending life savings waiting for lung transplant in Toronto

Lorraine MacKenzie would rather be at her home in Beach Point, P.E.I., but is currently living in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, desperately waiting for a lung transplant.

MacKenzie has genetic idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, also known as lung scarring, which runs in her family. Several of her relatives have already died from the disease.

The only solution is to get a lung transplant. The problem for MacKenzie and other Atlantic Canadians is that the surgery isn’t done anywhere in the region.

Instead, patients have to relocate to Toronto to get the surgery and since donated lungs can only live outside the body for several hours, transplant candidates have to be near the hospital.

But the cost of moving to Toronto until a match is found — an average wait of six months — and then remaining another three months during the long post-transplant recovery, is only partly covered by the Atlantic provinces.

“There are a lot of people out here who cannot afford to be here. They really, really can’t. There are some who have chosen to die because they can’t be here,” MacKenzie said. 

“It’s heartbreaking to watch these.”

While MacKenzie believes her savings will be enough to support her and her husband in Toronto while she waits for new lungs, she’s lobbied the P.E.I. government to increase its funding for patients needing to pay for accommodations.

$ 4,000 a month in rent

In order to make the move, MacKenzie’s husband took an early retirement and the couple has been using their savings to live in Toronto while she waits for surgery.

They’ve been in the city since April and are currently staying at a friend’s place for the summer. She said prior to that, they had been paying $ 4,000 a month for a two-bedroom condo and will be moving into another condo that costs the same amount in September.

“It’s an expensive move. There’s no two ways about it,” she said.

MacKenzie says she and her husband are using up their savings to keep up with the cost of living in Toronto, but said many others she’s spoken to are unable to and some have chosen to die instead. ( Ivan Arsovski/CBC)

Most of their expenses have had to be paid out of pocket because the government of P.E.I. only pays $ 1,000 for living expenses, the lowest in Atlantic Canada.

“We’re just slugging here one day at a time, one foot in front of the other and doing what we have to do,” MacKenzie said.

MacKenzie had reached out to the previous Liberal government before it called an election in April. She’s hoping that the new Progressive Conservative government will make a change.

“They have to for people out there who don’t have any savings … You can be young and need a transplant. There’s people out there who cannot afford to come. So they just have to step this up,” MacKenzie said.

Province to increase funding 

P.E.I. Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward said the issue is “a top priority” and that his department is actively working to try and increase funding for living costs. 

P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward says he recently found out about the issue, but his department is doing research to try and increase funding for living costs for lung patients as soon as possible. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

“This just recently came to my attention and I’ve already asked the staff to do a full jurisdictional scan,” he said. “I, as minister, want to know what all of the provinces across Canada and the territories are providing for their citizens as well.”

Aylward did not specify how much he would increase funding by, but said he plans to make an announcement in September, which the province will be designating idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis month.

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Rock stars: Birt's P.E.I. rink wins record-setter over N.B. at Scotties

SYDNEY, N.S. — After a blanked first end, nobody was predicting a record score in the game between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick Tuesday afternoon at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. 

But after that cautious start, a back and forth of granite blows led to the highest scoring game in Scotties history. 

Suzanne Birt's team from P.E.I. scored a single point in an extra end to defeat N.B.'s Andrea Crawford rink 13-12. The 25 points between the two teams surpassed the previous record of 23, set in 1988 and matched in 2009. 

"It was a roller-coaster game. A lot of missed shot and made shots," Birt said after the marathon match. "The fans got their money's worth today."

It looked as though P.E.I. was going to cruise to victory after stealing five points in the second end. But New Brunswick wouldn't go away.  

WATCH | Birt, Crawford combine for highest scoring game at Scotties:

Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt edges New Brunswick's Andrea Crawford 13-12 in Draw 10. The combined points of 25 sets a new record for the highest-scoring game at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. 1:01

New Brunswick erased deficits of 5-0, 8-4 and 12-9, scoring three in the 10th to tie the game 12-12 and send it into extras. 

Birt said she can't remember ever playing in a game that featured such dramatic swings. 

"I think you just have to go back to basics. Take a deep breath and do what you're familiar with. Just try to make shots," she said. 

With the win, Birt's team is tied atop the Pool B standings with Casey Scheiddeger's Team Wild Card at 4-1. Both have two games remaining in the preliminary round. 

"We were here trying to get the best record going forward so our record is good right now but we have to stay focused," Birt said. 

WATCH | Wild Card Scheidegger defeats N.W.T.'s Galusha, tied for 1st in Pool B: 

Wild Card Casey Scheidegger beats North West Territories' Kerry Galusha 6-5 in Draw 10 at Scotties. Scheidegger improves to 4-1, Galusha falls to 3-2. 0:39

Birt's wasn't the only wild affair Tuesday afternoon. 

Jennifer Jones scored five points in the first end against Yukon but it was a grind the rest of the way. At one point Yukon closed the gap to 7-5 before Jones finally closed out the game, 9-7.

"The ice was curling a bit more so you can actually make some finesse shots which earlier in the week we couldn't. It was more fun," Jones said. 

The win improves Team Canada's record to 3-2 after Jones lost both games on Monday. 

Jones credited the five-rock rule for the high scoring. It's the first year for the new rule at the women's national championship. 

"The five-rock rule is great," she said. "I think it's way better. It keeps a lot of rocks in play. But to be honest I think the scores today was because of the curl in the ice."

Also, Saskatchewan defeated Newfoundland and Labrador 8-4 to improve to 3-2 and Scheidegger defeated Northwest Territories 6-5 to move to 4-1. 

In total, 64 points were scored across the four sheets on Tuesday afternoon. 

WATCH | Northern Ontario's McCarville beats B.C.'s Wark at Scotties:

Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville defeats British Columbia's Sarah Wark 8-7 in Draw 9 at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. 0:37

"Something in the water, maybe? I'm not sure what led to it but a lot of shots missed and made," said Saskatchewan skip Robyn Silvernagle. 

Scheidegger said the teams are still trying to figure out the ice and it's leading to some explosive scoring. 

"I think it's just struggling with the ice a little bit. High pressure. I know ourselves included it took us a while to figure it out. I think that could be part of it," she said. 

Ontario skip Rachel Homan delivers a rock against Manitoba on Tuesday morning at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, N.S. Homan suffered her first loss at the event, 6-5 to Manitoba’s Tracy Fleury. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

In Pool A play, Rachel Homan suffered her first loss at the Scotties.

The Ontario skip dropped a 6-5 decision to former provincial rival Tracy Fleury, now representing Manitoba, in the morning draw.

Homan (4-1), a three-time Canadian champion, couldn't hold onto a 4-1 lead after scoring three in the second end and one in the third.

It was a much-needed victory for Fleury (3-2), who has now won three in a row.

Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville and B.C.'s Sarah Wark are locked in a three-way tie for third in Pool A. McCarville beat Wark 8-7 in an extra end on Tuesday morning to cause the logjam.

Alberta's Chelsea Carey (5-0) pulled in front of Homan for top spot in Pool A after a 10-5 win over Nunavut's Jenine Bodner.

In the other morning game, host Nova Scotia picked up its first win as Jill Brothers downed Quebec's Gabrielle Lavoie 7-4.

Another Pool A draw was scheduled for Tuesday evening.

The top four teams from each pool in the preliminary round will qualify for the championship round starting Thursday. The playoffs start Saturday and the final will be played Sunday.

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How a P.E.I. woman delivered her baby with the help of a 911 dispatcher

Santana Courtney always thought that she would give birth to her first baby in a hospital surrounded by doctors.

Instead, she ended up delivering her baby in the bathroom of her home with a 911 dispatcher helping over the phone.

Courtney was expected to go into labour on Oct. 23 last year. When it still hadn't happened a week later, she went to the hospital to have her labour induced.

Doctors told her it could still take a few days so Courtney went back to her home in New Perth, P.E.I. But it was only a few hours later that Courtney started to have contractions. 

"I didn't realize they were contractions because he's my first kid and what people told me was different from how my body was," Courtney said. 

About an hour later, Courtney's contractions became so intense she started to push. She made her way into the bathroom and had the father call labour and delivery services.

They told the soon-to-be parents to call 911 immediately.

'It was really intense'

They were connected with Vicky Blacquiere, a communications officer with Medacom Atlantic. Once Blacquiere assessed the situation, she quickly realized paramedics wouldn't make it in time to bring Courtney to the hospital.

Blacquiere was on speaker phone. The father said the baby's head had started to show.

"It was really intense but it was great," said Blacquiere.

Medacom Atlantic communications officer Vicky Blacquiere says the phone call with Courtney was the first time she had to help deliver a baby. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Over the next few minutes, Blacquiere guided the parents through the rest of the delivery using EMS protocol. 

"Honestly, the couple was amazing," she said.

'I was just in shock'

It was only about five minutes later that Courtney's son, Cameron, was born.

"I was just in shock. I wasn't saying too much. I just kept looking at him down on the floor like, 'Oh my goodness,'" said Courtney.

"[The father] just ripped off his shoelace and tied it with that and I just waited there until the paramedics came" – Santana Courtney

But the work wasn't over quite yet. Courtney and Cameron were still attached by the umbilical cord. Blacquiere told the parents they would need to find a string to tie the cord.

"I didn't say anything and [the father] just ripped off his shoelace and tied it with that and I just waited there until the paramedics came," Courtney said.

First complete phone delivery for Medacom Atlantic

It was the first time Blacquiere had helped deliver a baby and the first time Medacom Atlantic had coached a delivery from start to finish over the phone. 

"For me it was amazing. As soon as I heard that baby cry it was like a flush of relief," Blacquiere said.

Courtney says doctors had attempted to induce labour at the hospital earlier in the day. She was back at home when she started to have contractions. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"The baby was healthy and breathing. It was just a sigh of relief."

Paramedics eventually arrived and cut the cord. They took Courtney and the baby to the hospital where he was given a clean bill of health. 

Meeting for the first time

Last Friday, Courtney and Cameron visited the Medacom Atlantic office to meet Blacquiere for the first time. Cameron was given a teddy-bear and a onesie to mark the occasion. Courtney was given a copy of the transcript of her 911 call. 

"That felt good. Felt like … a piece of the missing puzzle was there," said Courtney.

Courtney brought Cameron to the Medacom Atlantic office on Friday so they could finally meet Blacquiere in person. Cameron was given a onesie and teddy bear to mark the occasion. (Submitted by Santana Courtney)

​The new mom said she's excited for when Cameron is old enough to hear about the day he was born. For Blacquiere, the call is something she'll never forget.

"We deal with everything from motor vehicle accidents and cardiac arrests. For me the baby birth made my day. [It] makes this job worthwhile."

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Former nurse on P.E.I. talks about burnout — and says the province needs to do more

As the province lauds a new nursing recruitment program, a nurse who recently retired says much more needs to be done to improve working conditions.

"It's just too stressful and too demanding," said Linda McLaughlin, a former registered nurse.

McLaughlin worked as a nurse at the Prince Edward Home, a long-term care home in Charlottetown, for more than 25 years.

She says if she was still working as a nurse her phone would be ringing constantly — especially during this holiday time — with pleas to cover shifts.

McLaughlin said it can be tough on the nurses working during a storm when there is no backfill or support available, but the requirements for patient care remain the same. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"A lot of times you just can't find anybody, so they end up working short," she said. "You're just pulling your hair out by the end of the shift." 

'You don't have enough staff'

Although McLaughlin stopped working in 2015, she said she is still in touch with many nurses who are still working, and that little has changed. She says budgets needs to be increased to prevent overwork and stress.

After a 16-hour shift, you might get three or four hours off. Then you're back again working again.– Linda McLaughlin

McLaughlin said it's common for eight-hour shifts to turn into 16-hour shifts, with nurses simultaneously providing patient care while trying to call in staff when more people are needed because of storms or sick workers.

"After a 16-hour shift, you might get three or four hours off. Then you're back again working again," said McLaughlin.

The Canadian Nurses Association says it can be a vicious circle when staff become tired and sick, and then can't get back to work, leaving the other nurses even more short-staffed. (CBC News)

​She said that during night shifts there's often only one staff person per 12 residents. 

Nurses are supposed to be doing patient-centred care, but she says sometimes all that's possible is basic care: feeding and changing people. "You can only do your best," she said. "I feel badly for people who are still working,"

New recruitment program announced

The province has recently announced a new recruitment program for nursing students.

The nursing recruitment incentive program for new graduates will offer nursing students a signing bonus of $ 1,100 and guaranteed employment for two years with Health PEI.

It replaces some previous sponsorship and new grad programs. 

"They'll get a guarantee of permanent status," said Marion Dowling, chief of nursing for Health PEI. 

"Our previous programs, like the sponsorship, was limited to 18 new grads, so this is going to look at up to 50."

Marion Dowling said Health PEI does have times when staff shortages mean staff can't leave their worksite or take holidays. (Laura Meader)

There are currently about 70 vacant nursing jobs with the province, Dowling said, and it has been that way for about six years. 

Health PEI confirmed some staff can't get time off, or have to work back-to-back shifts due to shortages. 

"Christmastime and the holiday time is a challenging time," said Dowling. 

She believes the graduate recruitment will help support the other nurses.

The new nursing graduate incentive program will offer a one-time financial incentive and two full years of employment with Health PEI, while requiring the new nurses to sign a return-in-service agreement which would see them remain in the province for the two full years. (CBC )

Working conditions important, says national group

The Canadian Nurses Association said many areas — especially in rural parts of Canada — are struggling to find enough nurses and keep them. 

The group says graduate incentive programs, mentorship programs for nursing students and good working conditions with flexible work hours are important. 

It's a vicious circle: you can become tired and then sick and then not be able to go back to work.– Josette   Roussel

Josette Roussel, a registered nurse and program lead in nursing practice and policy at the Canadian Nurses Association, said the shortages are tough on nurses. 

"It's a vicious circle: you can become tired and then sick and then not be able to go back to work," she said.

They hear concerns from members about being exhausted and stressed, Roussel said.

As of late December, the province says 15 nursing students have signed up for the new recruitment program and more are expected.

Officials say there are also incentive plans in the works to attract more experienced nurses.

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