Question Period Highlight – Long term care and home care waitlists

November 18, 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 Leader Maureen MacDonald asked Stephen McNeil about the 80% increase in the home care wait list.

MAUREEN MACDONALD: Last week we learned that the home care wait-list in Nova Scotia had grown by 80 per cent in recent months and now today we have learned that nursing home wait-lists in Nova Scotia have ballooned and it continues to grow, having hit a record high in November.

My question to the Premier is this, how could the Premier have allowed the long-term care wait-list to continue to grow at this rate, Mr. Speaker?

STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member. As she would know, these wait-lists have fluctuated throughout the year, every year they have been in existence. We made it very clear from the very beginning, because we listened to Nova Scotians who have told us they would like their loved ones at home as long as possible.

We are putting in place requirements to support home care across the province. As a matter of fact, we got more funding to the budget to deal with the needs of Nova Scotians who want to receive that care at home for as long as possible.

We’re going to continue to work to improve access to home care, making sure that the long-term beds that are available are used and making sure, quite frankly, that the lists that are there, the lists that the member is referring to, are actual lists of people who require that service today.

MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are 2,575 people on the waiting list for long-term care and 303 of those are waiting in a hospital bed. I want to ask the Premier what he plans to tell those families who have a loved one waiting on a long-term care list, who just want their loved one to be placed in a nursing home?

 STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, we’re going to continue to do what the Minister of Health and Wellness has been doing, ensuring that we provide a complement of options for Nova Scotia families when it comes to caring for their loved ones. There are some Nova Scotians who are in a bed in transitional care units across the province who potentially have the possibility of going back home. We want to make sure those supports are there, that we provide those options to Nova Scotians and we’re going to continue to add funding to make sure that that myriad of options suits the needs of Nova Scotians.

MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, having people occupy hospital beds places a great deal of pressure on the health care system. It means that people who require surgeries can’t get into our facilities when people are unable to be discharged in a timely fashion back into their homes or to a long-term care facility. This government and this minister seem intent on reorganizing who’s sitting at the boardroom table and taking their eye off the tough issue of reducing wait times for home care and long-term care.

So my question, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier is, will he direct the Health and Wellness Minister to make reducing wait times for seniors a higher priority than obviously is the case now?

STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to, on behalf of all members of this government and indeed all Nova Scotians, thank the Minister of Health and Wellness for the tremendous work that he has been doing on behalf of all Nova Scotians.