Tories say health care ‘crisis’ will decide the election
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.
Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie waits for the start of the leaders’ debate in Halifax on Thursday, May 18, 2017.