RESTOR­ING LO­CAL VOICE

PC leader says is­land will be heard on health care.

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

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Jamie Bail­lie says if his party forms the next pro­vin­cial govern­ment it will see that the lo­cal voice is restored in the health-care sys­tem.

Bail­lie said his govern­ment would en­sure de­ci­sions about health care are made closer to home, dur­ing a cam­paign stop in Syd­ney Mon­day.

“Health care is in cri­sis and Cape Bre­ton is at the cen­tre of it,” Bail­lie said in an in­ter­view. “There are peo­ple with­out a fam­ily doc­tor who need help, there are peo­ple wait­ing for years for ba­sic surgery. We’ve ac­tu­ally lost crit­i­cal mass in health care in Cape Bre­ton and the doc­tors them­selves are now speak­ing up.”

Re­cently, hun­dreds of peo­ple packed a high school gym­na­sium in Syd­ney Mines for a doc­tor-led rally rais­ing con­cerns about the state of lo­cal health care.

Lib­eral Leader Stephen Mc­Neil him­self has ac­knowl­edged that doc­tors say the lo­cal voice has been lost in the tran­si­tion to a provincewide health ad­min­is­tra­tion, some­thing he said a re­elected Lib­eral govern­ment will work to re­verse.

“How many times do 600 peo­ple have to show up at a com­mu­nity meet­ing be­fore they get the govern­ment’s at­ten­tion?” Bail­lie said. “To me, things went off the rails when all the de­ci­sions got moved to Halifax. It’s ob­vi­ous we need lo­cal in­put and lo­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing to get health care back on track here in Cape Bre­ton and in the other re­gions of Nova Sco­tia.

Un­der his party’s plan, zone man­agers would be moved into re­gional hospi­tals with de­ci­sion­mak­ing author­ity and ac­count­abil­ity, with com­mu­nity health boards pro­vid­ing over­sight for re­gional man­age­ment. Bail­lie said those mea­sures don’t cost any­thing while stream­lin­ing the sys­tem.

Prior to the es­tab­lish­ment of the Nova Sco­tia Health Author­ity, the Lib­er­als had in­di­cated com­mu­nity health boards would have a greater voice but Bail­lie said that hasn’t oc­curred.

“What we got was over­central­iza­tion in Halifax and bu­reau­cracy by the back­door,” Bail­lie said.

Af­ter spend­ing a cou­ple of days on the cam­paign trail in Cape Bre­ton, the PC leader said, based on what peo­ple said to him, health care is “a gi­ant is­sue” in Cape Bre­ton, say­ing he met many se­niors with­out fam­ily doc­tors and oth­ers wait­ing for surgery while suf­fer­ing chronic pain.

Bail­lie also said a Tory govern­ment will once again al­low hospi­tal foun­da­tions to match their fundrais­ing ef­forts to lo­cal needs. They also pre­vi­ously com­mit­ted to spend­ing $13.5 mil­lion on “ur­gent doc­tor re­cruit­ment,” he said, of both spe­cial­ists and fam­ily doc­tors. When asked how that would be al­lo­cated, Bail­lie said Cape Bre­ton would rank at the top based on need.

Bail­lie

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