Question Period highlight – Ebola equipment and training for healthcare workers

October 16, 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 Stephen McNeil about protective equipment for and training healthcare workers who may have to deal with the Ebola virus.

DAVID WILSON: My question today is through you to the Premier. The current outbreak of Ebola virus was identified in December of last year in Guinea, West Africa. It quickly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. It is now present in over seven countries. Almost a year later, front-line health care workers in Nova Scotia are still without proper protective equipment and training. So, my question through you, Mr. Speaker, is to the Premier. Is the Premier satisfied with this government’s response to the Ebola outbreak thus far?

STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Doctor Strang has been doing a tremendous job for this province, for a number of years. He is doing a tremendous job on this file and we will continue to work side by side with Dr. Strang to ensure the people of this good province, and those who provide health care to the people of this province, are working in safe environments.

DAVID WILSON: Yesterday when asked about the Ebola outbreak, the Minister of Health and Wellness said, “… our province is in an extremely low-risk category” The Minister of Health and Wellness may not agree but the reality is that we live in a global society not far removed from the rest of the world. Our province has strong connections to African countries and travel to and from Africa by people in Nova Scotia, including doctors, humanitarian workers, and students for example, is more common than I think the Health and Wellness Minister would like to think.

So, I would like to ask through you, Mr. Speaker, why is the Premier allowing his minister to minimize the risk of Ebola when precautions like proper protection equipment and training should have been provided months ago?

STEPHEN MCNEIL : Mr. Speaker, I want to tell all the members of this House how proud I am of the work that the Minister of Health and Wellness is doing on behalf of all Nova Scotians to ensure that we have a sustainable health care system, one that all Nova Scotians, those who are providing health care to our citizens and those who are accessing health care in our systems, recognize that it is a safe working environment. Again, I want to tell the member that Dr. Strang is continuing to do the great work that he has been doing on behalf of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, and we’re going to continue to work side by side with Dr. Strang to ensure that Nova Scotians are protected.

DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would agree, we have a great, dedicated health care workforce here in the Province of Nova Scotia but they are not prepared. We are being told that equipment is on back order; it has not arrived yet. So those health care workers are concerned.

I would like to ask, through you, Mr. Speaker, what can the Premier tell those health care workers who are looking for that equipment, or how can he alleviate their anxiety, which they have currently because of that equipment not being available, as we stand here today?