Tories say health care ‘cri­sis’ will de­cide the elec­tion

Cape Breton Post - - Province -

Nova Sco­tia’s Tory leader is fram­ing the pro­vin­cial elec­tion as a ref­er­en­dum on health care, but his main op­po­nents say his party’s poli­cies lack the sub­stance to win on that ter­rain.

Jamie Bail­lie was greeted by cheers as he took the stage at an event in Hal­i­fax on Mon­day morn­ing sur­rounded by can­di­dates, sup­port­ers and chil­dren wav­ing signs read­ing “More Doc­tors.’’

Bail­lie re­layed sto­ries he picked up from vot­ers on the cam­paign trail about fam­ily doc­tor short­ages, emer­gency room clo­sures and pro­longed wait times for men­tal health care. He ac­cused Lib­eral Premier Stephen McNeil of stick­ing his head the sand while the prov­ince’s health sys­tem de­volved into a state of “cri­sis.’’

“Take a cold hard look at the McNeil gov­ern­ment record in health care, and de­cide whether we’re doomed to worse,’’ Bail­lie told the crowd. “Only a change in gov­ern­ment would lead to bet­ter health care.’’

Bail­lie said, if elected, he would reach out to the prov­ince’s med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and lo­cal providers to fix health care on the front lines, spend $13.5 mil­lion to re­cruit more doc­tors to Nova Sco­tia and dou­ble tu­ition relief for prac­ti­tion­ers work­ing in ru­ral and un­der­served ar­eas.

He told re­porters that the Con­ser­va­tive party is polling neck-in-neck with the Lib­er­als in the wan­ing days of the cam­paign, and he thinks the ques­tion of health care may be enough to tip the scales in his favour.

“Do we want the kind of leader who works against ... the peo­ple that pro­vide health-care ser­vices, or do we want the kind of leader who reaches out to them to make our sys­tem bet­ter?’’ he said. “That’s re­ally the ques­tion be­fore Nova Sco­tians this week.’’

Bail­lie’s po­lit­i­cal ri­vals pounced on the Con­ser­va­tive leader with ac­cu­sa­tions of po­lit­i­cal grand­stand­ing, set­ting off a spree of du­elling “fact checks’’ against the other par­ties as the cam­paigns jock­eyed over health­care pol­icy.

“(Bail­lie) is scar­ing peo­ple into be­liev­ing that the sky is fall­ing and he’s the only one to hold the ceil­ing up,’’ McNeil said at a news con­fer­ence Mon­day af­ter­noon. “The fact of the mat­ter is that at no point this morn­ing, or at any other time, has he laid out how he’s go­ing to pro­vide pri­mary health care to Nova Sco­tians.’’

The Lib­eral leader de­fended his record, say­ing the prov­ince has worked with health-care providers to im­prove the med­i­cal sys­tem, and his party has laid out a sub­stan­tive plat­form to en­sure that progress con­tin­ues.

CP PHOTO

Nova Sco­tia Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Jamie Bail­lie waits for the start of the lead­ers’ de­bate in Hal­i­fax on Thurs­day, May 18, 2017.

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