CAM­PAIGN PROM­ISES

Pri­mary care clin­ics, new doc­tors, nurse prac­ti­tion­ers on list

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

NDP leader talks health care in Cape Bre­ton.

A NDP pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment would in­vest at least $17 mil­lion over four years into Cape Bre­ton health care in ar­eas in­clud­ing pri­mary care clin­ics, new doc­tors and nurse prac­ti­tion­ers.

Leader Gary Bur­rill made the cam­paign prom­ise in an in­ter­view with the Cape Bre­ton Post Mon­day, a day af­ter a mas­sive turnout for a doctor-led rally in Syd­ney Mines, which he also at­tended.

Over­all, he said the party would in­vest $120 mil­lion over four years in pri­mary health care provincewide. The $17 mil­lion rep­re­sents Cape Bre­ton’s per capita al­lot­ment of that fund, but would rep­re­sent the min­i­mum num­ber, Bur­rill said.

“That’s not to say that that’s all that would be al­lo­cated to Cape Bre­ton, but … no less than 14 per cent, which is the part of Nova Sco­tia’s pop­u­la­tion that Cape Bre­ton rep­re­sents, no less than that, will be de­voted to the prob­lem of ac­cess to pri­mary care here,” Bur­rill said.

At the rally, doc­tors and res­i­dents both spoke pas­sion­ately about their frus­tra­tions with the health sys­tem, in­clud­ing short­ages of fam­ily doc­tors and spe­cial­ists.

Bur­rill noted that un­til he be­came party leader he was serv­ing as min­is­ter at United Her­itage Church in Syd­ney. He said he couldn’t imag­ine any­one not be­ing moved by the sen­ti­ments ex­pressed at Sun­day’s rally, both the level of crisis pre­sented and pre­ci­sion in the anal­y­sis pro­vided

by the physi­cians who spoke.

“I think a very clear pic­ture emerged of how we got into this state of health-care crisis in Cape Bre­ton and what the road is to deal­ing with it,” Bur­rill said.

The Stephen McNeil Lib­er­als fo­cused on cen­tral­iz­ing health ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity in Hal­i­fax, he

said, and the au­thor­ity has shown it has a “tin ear” when it comes to lis­ten­ing to the con­cerns of lo­cal doc­tors.

He said there’s been a “sin­gu­lar fail­ure to in­vest the re­sources that are re­quired in or­der to meet the need.

In an open let­ter to doc­tors Sun­day, McNeil said the North­side Gen­eral will not be clos­ing and emer­gency room physi­cians pay will not change. The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives have said among the steps they would take should Jamie Bail­lie be­come premier will be to in­vest $13.5 mil­lion to bring more doc­tors to un­der-ser­viced ar­eas.

Bur­rill said he would take part in an all-lead­ers de­bate on health care in Cape Bre­ton should one be called.

On Mon­day, the party also un­veiled a plan that would pro­vide den­tal care to those 17 and younger.

“This march for­ward to get­ting to a place of uni­ver­sal cov­er­age for young peo­ple and chil­dren in Nova Sco­tia is a march that will re­sume if we are asked to be the gov­ern­ment of the prov­ince again,” Bur­rill said.

Child poverty has been iden­ti­fied as a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem in Cape Bre­ton, with one-third of chil­dren liv­ing be­low the poverty line. Bur­rill called it a solv­able prob­lem and said his party’s com­mit­ment to a $15 min­i­mum wage would help al­le­vi­ate it.

He added when gov­ern­ment doesn’t pro­vide ad­e­quate ser­vices such as ed­u­ca­tion, then chil­dren are un­able to go on to the post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion that would al­low them to earn a higher in­come and pay greater taxes over the course of their lives. Peo­ple with lower in­comes also have less pos­i­tive health out­comes and more en­coun­ters with the jus­tice sys­tem.

“All though the years, we pay for the con­se­quences of this,” Bur­rill said.

CAPE BRE­TON POST PHOTO

NDP Leader Gary Bur­rill was in Syd­ney Mon­day, where he spoke with the Cape Bre­ton Post about a range of top­ics in­clud­ing what lo­cal doc­tors are call­ing a crisis in pri­mary health care.

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