Primary care clinics, new doctors, nurse practitioners on list
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.
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.