Question Period Highlight: Roseway ER

October 15, 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 the Liberal Health Minister about ER closures on the South Shore.

DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. As a result of the minister’s poor timing, the current ER accountability report hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. Many Nova Scotians may not be aware that ER closures increased last year for the first time since 2009. My question to the minister is, why hasn’t the minister taken any steps or actions on improving emergency care here in Nova Scotia?

LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the former minister is taking responsibility for seven months of those 12 that the report covered. But one of the areas that does need to be looked at – if we take a comprehensive look at the report we will see that there are actually three or four ERs that have persisted over a long period of time that have become problematic once again. In fact, a number of ERs have made substantive improvements, and I believe that in the coming year with a provincial locum to be able to fill some of those needs when a doctor unexpectedly leaves an area, becomes sick – and also we’re having occasions now where it’s a nursing problem as opposed to a physician problem.

DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I can stand on my feet and indicate that under our watch, the emergency room closures went down every single year. The minister opposite can’t say that. In 2011-12, the Roseway emergency room wasn’t closed at all – not one hour; not one day. In the member for Kings West’s first year as minister, the Roseway ER had been closed for 117 hours and counting.

So, Mr. Speaker, through you I’d like to ask the minister, what is the minister doing to address the increasing ER closure, in particular along the South Shore?

MR. GLAVINE: Roseway has become a problem due to nursing shortages in many of those cases and you will see that we will, in fact, be releasing a plan to make sure that we have both nurses and doctors to cover emergency rooms.

DAVID WILSON: The Emergency Department Accountability Act states that when there has been an ongoing pattern of closure, such as the case at Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital, there must be consultation with the community. So as I said, under the Act that has to happen. So I’d like to ask the minister, how many public consultations has he or the district health authority had with the community in Lunenburg and along the South Shore about the chronic closures that we see in the ER?