PC Leader Tim Houston says Pictou County needs more testing options and that he’s going to volunteer at a testing site as soon as Premier Rankin makes it happen.
“I’ve said from the beginning we need testing, testing, testing,” says Houston. “For a while, pop up testing wasn’t a part of our province's strategy. Now it’s hugely successful, but not available in rural areas like Pictou County.”
“I want to help, and as soon as the Premier gets resources into the area, I’m going to recruit as many volunteers as I can. It’s the Nova Scotian way,” says Houston.
Last week, Public Health issued exposure notifications for two locations in Pictou County. As of today, there are three pop up testing sites in the Halifax area and one in Sydney, but none in Pictou County. The only other testing site in Pictou is booked solid, with no available appointments.
Other Pictou County MLAs Pat Dunn and Karla MacFarlane have made the same pledge and are urging everyone to volunteer if the Premier brings pop up testing to the region.
“It’s about helping people have that peace of mind,” says MacFarlane. “The government should already have a plan in place to test everyone in a timely manner.”
“People shouldn’t have to drive to Truro or Antigonish for a test,” says Dunn. “When you're discouraging travel, you need to have resources within the community.”
Premier Iain Rankin held a surprise COVID-19 update on Sunday, and when asked what new announcements were being made today, admitted that he has not been focusing on rural areas.
“What’s new is that we’re concentrating on the whole province, and not just Halifax,” said the Premier.
For Houston, that’s a concerning statement.
“I’m hearing that there was a lot of focus on Halifax - albeit way too late - but that rural Nova Scotia has been an afterthought,” says Houston. “We are fighting this pandemic together as a province and it’s time that resources made their way to every area of the province.”
“It might cost money,” says Houston. “But no one should be putting money before the safety of Nova Scotians.”