Question Period Highlight – Liberals promise of a doctor for every Nova Scotian

October 22, 2014

Your NDP MLAs are hard at work in the legislature this fall, holding the government to account during Question Period on a number of key issues, including job loses since Stephen McNeil became Premier, and how the Liberals’ health board amalgamation distraction is causing their government to take their eye off what really matters – front line care. Here is a question NDP Health Critic Dave Wilson asked Liberal Health Minister Leo Glavine about his promise to have a doctor for every Nova Scotian by the end of the government’s first year.

DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. In the last 12 months, the Liberal Government has not opened a single Collaborative Emergency Centre, nor have they announced any new primary care centres. Primary care centres allow doctors to practise – a variety of health care providers, including nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers – allowing patients to get better care sooner.

I’d like to ask the minister, why has the minister allowed himself to be distracted by the district health authorities’ amalgamation instead of continuing to improve front-line health care by opening more Collaborative Emergency Centres and collaborative practices?

LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I do agree and our department agrees that the CEC model is a very, very valuable part of primary health care. It will continue to expand in our province. As the member knows, any project like when they developed the CECs is only one small part of the work of the minister. We have had, in fact, a number of key initiatives that are well underway.

Mary Jane Hampton’s report – the first draft is now in the department. The final draft is expected within a week. Once that is in place, I can assure the member opposite that there will be new CECs in the future.

DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister recognizes that a year of inaction really hurts the health care delivery and services here in the province.

During the last election, the Liberals promised a doctor for every Nova Scotian this year. Today in Public Accounts Committee, the deputy minister told us this commitment is really not doable and it will be an ongoing work-in-progress.

My question to the minister, will the minister now admit that this is another promise that he won’t be able to keep?

GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that all we need to do is look at one community alone that’s a little bit of a microcosm of the work that we’re doing, and that’s Digby. Digby went for 10 to 15 years without doctors. We now have three new doctors with a fourth who is coming in place. Underserviced areas like Hantsport and Windsor have a CAPP doctor now who is making a long-term commitment.

With our tuition relief, we will meet our goal – and as our campaign promised, it was over the course of our mandate, not the first year.

DAVID WILSON: I wish I had a copy of the commitment, because I remember seeing a check on year one, Mr. Speaker. And it is great that the minister was able to continue work on those new doctors in Digby because it was an announcement that I made – one of the last few announcements that I made as Minister of Health and Wellness – and there is a lot of work that has been done. (Applause) Thank you very much, no claps from that side.

In Public Accounts Committee today, when the Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness was questioned about the financial impact of the amalgamation of the boards, he was unwilling to provide any specific numbers. We know that the commitment that the Liberals made, which was that they would see a $13 million savings from the amalgamation, will not be achievable.