LIB­ER­ALS COME TO CAPE BRE­TON

Lib­eral leader an­nounces new money for ex­panded home care

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

Mc­Neil an­nounces plans to ex­pand care­giver ben­e­fit pro­gram.

It’s clear that Cape Bre­ton health-care providers feel they aren’t be­ing lis­tened to and a Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will work with them to ad­dress chal­lenges fac­ing the health sys­tem, Pre­mier Stephen Mc­Neil says.

Mc­Neil brought the Lib­er­als re-elec­tion bid to Syd­ney on Wed­nes­day where he an­nounced plans to ex­pand the province’s care­giver ben­e­fit pro­gram but was dogged by ques­tions about the state of lo­cal health care.

Mc­Neil’s visit to Syd­ney came just days af­ter hun­dreds of con­cerned res­i­dents packed a doc­tor-led rally on health care, doc­tor short­ages and the fu­ture op­er­a­tion of the North­side Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ment.

One of the com­plaints of lo­cal doc­tors was that with the move to a provincewide health author­ity the voice of lo­cal providers has been muted.

“We’ve heard health-care providers don’t feel they’ve been heard, lis­tened to, we’ve made it very clear to them and to Doc­tors Nova Sco­tia that we’re pre­pared to work with them to con­tinue to an­swer the chal­lenges fac­ing Nova Sco­tians,” Mc­Neil said in a scrum with re­porters.

“Ob­vi­ously we’ve heard from Doc­tors Nova Sco­tia and doc­tors in this com­mu­nity that they haven’t felt they were a part of

the last two-and-a-half years and be­ing a big enough part of the plan­ning … I think it’s im­por­tant that we hear the lo­cal voice.”

Mc­Neil said he met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Doc­tors Nova Sco­tia last week. He said some “in­ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion” has been cir­cu­lat­ing, in­clud­ing that the North­side gen­eral emer­gency de­part­ment will close and also that doc­tors’ pay would be re­duced, both of which he de­nied.

He said doc­tors’ in­put is needed in how to best de­liver ser­vices and the province is in­vest­ing

in health care in­clud­ing nurse prac­ti­tion­ers and col­lab­o­ra­tive care.

“We don’t need to spend more money on ad­min­is­tra­tion, we need to make sure we’re lis­ten­ing to front­line health-care work­ers to en­sure that we have ap­pro­pri­ate health-care teams in place,” Mc­Neil said.

When asked whether he would com­mit to tak­ing part in a lead­ers de­bate in Cape Bre­ton on health care, Mc­Neil said a num­ber of de­bates have al­ready been sched­uled in which he will take part.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to hav­ing those de­bates and then I’m do­ing what I’ve been do­ing all along, go­ing out and talk­ing to Nova Sco­tians, here in Cape Bre­ton I’ll be do­ing the same thing,” Mc­Neil said.

Mc­Neil said a mes­sage com­ing out of the rally trans­mit­ted to him by Health Minister Leo Glavine was that peo­ple did not want the is­sue to be politi­cized, some­thing he ac­cused PC Leader Jamie Bail­lie of do­ing. The Tories is­sued a news re­lease Wed­nes­day say­ing the pre­mier has failed to re­spond to the de­bate invitation.

While in Syd­ney, Mc­Neil an­nounced that, if re-elected, the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will ex­pand the eli­gi­bil­ity for the care­giver ben­e­fit pro­gram, nearly dou­bling the num­ber of peo­ple who can re­ceive help to care for a loved one.

The pro­gram pro­vides care­givers with $4,800 in an­nual ben­e­fits. Un­der the Lib­eral cam­paign prom­ise about 1,600 ad­di­tional peo­ple could qual­ify at a cost of $25 mil­lion over four years. The ex­pan­sion would specif­i­cally al­low peo­ple car­ing for loved ones with lower lev­els of de­men­tia and men­tal ill­ness to be el­i­gi­ble.

This year, 400 care­givers for peo­ple with lower lev­els of de­men­tia would be­come el­i­gi­ble. Those car­ing for peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness would be able to ap­ply in 2018.

“I am one of those very peo­ple he’s talk­ing about,” said Mel Bry­den, pres­i­dent of the Re­serve Mines Se­niors and Pen­sion­ers. “I am ac­tu­ally chron­i­cally ill, but I don’t look it. I am one of the peo­ple that, hope­fully, when he made this an­nounce­ment (Wed­nes­day), that I’ll be able to stay in my home and have dignity, which is all any of us want.”

Mc­Neil said the Lib­er­als would spend $750,000 a year for three years be­gin­ning in 201819 to help doc­tors use video to con­sult with pa­tients.

CAPE BRE­TON POST

Pre­mier Stephen Mc­Neil brought his Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s re-elec­tion bid to the New Dawn Cen­tre for Society In­no­va­tion in Syd­ney Wed­nes­day, where he made a home-care fund­ing an­nounce­ment.

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