A Cape Breton, N.S. man is fuming after he says his elderly mother was forced to transfer between hospitals in a taxi without a paramedic while experiencing arm and chest pain. Local politicians say the incident highlights the region’s healthcare woes.

When Joe Young’s 92-year-old mother Freda Young started feeling ill last Sunday night, he says he took her to Glace Bay Hospital because the emergency room closest to them in New Waterford, N.S., some 20 minutes away, was closed.

After several hours, Freda’s chest and arm pain was only getting worse, he says. With Glace Bay’s emergency room about to close for the day too, Young says he was told his mother needed to be transferred to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, another 20 minutes away.

“They said… ‘We’ll be sending you by taxi,’” Young told CTV Atlantic. “I said, ‘Well, why?’,” he added. “And they said, ‘Well, there’s no ambulances available.’”

Young says he was worried that his mother had suffered a heart attack and might suffer another one on the way.

“And you got no paramedics,” he says. “What do you do? Do you just leave a lady that’s 92-years-old [to] die in a cab?”

She took the taxi.

In an email to CTV Atlantic, a spokesperson from Nova Scotia’s Emergency Health Services said that a paramedic unit was available for a hospital-to-hospital transfer between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Oct. 2, which is when Young says his mother was transported by taxi.

NDP MLA and health critic Tammy Martin said she blames Young’s experience on funding cutbacks that have seen emergency room closures, doctor shortages and a growing lack of medical services.

Progressive Conservative MLA Eddie Orrell agreed.

“This is just another example of what’s going to happen if we don’t get doctors and nurses to keep our emergency rooms open in Cape Breton,” Orrell told CTV Atlantic.

Randy Delorey, a Liberal MLA and the province’s Minister of Health and Wellness, calls Young’s story “concerning.”

“I’ve committed to reaching out to ensure we get the full scope of information,” Delorey told CTV Atlantic.

Young says his mother’s condition has only gotten worse since she checked into Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

“She took a heart attack the following day,” he said. “And since then, she’s had memory loss,” he added. “There’s times she didn’t know I was there.”

Now, Young says he wants to be assured that no else will be forced to take a cab for urgent care.

With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald