Through the Cracks
Paul MacNeill, Rachel Collier, freelance photographer John Morris
A tiny news operation took on a huge social issue, and an entire province sat up and took notice. The Eastern Graphic put a face on a public-health crisis in Prince Edward Island by talking to those most affected by it: people struggling with severe addiction, mental-health issues and homelessness, and those working to help them. The Graphic discovered underfunding and dysfunction in services for these extremely vulnerable Islanders. The impact of this ambitious year-long investigation was felt immediately and at the highest levels: hours after the publication of the series’ first instalment, the province’s premier announced in the legislature that the government would fix its broken system for opioid and alcohol addictions treatment. Shortly thereafter, P.E.I. became the first province in Canada to fully fund such treatment. Premier Dennis King has declared that without the Eastern Graphic’s reporting, this might never have happened. The series also expedited the opening of an emergency homeless shelter. In another consequential result, the province’s justice minister quietly sat in a talking circle with a Mi’kmaq man challenged throughout his life with schizophrenia, violence and addiction, whose wrongful imprisonment had been reported by the Graphic. The minister listened, and then, in a move unprecedented in Island history, he apologized.