Nova Sco­tia needs im­proved ac­cess to health care in 2019: Op­po­si­tion

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY KEITH DOUCETTE

A lack of ac­cess to pri­mary health care is an on­go­ing prob­lem in Nova Sco­tia and the prov­ince’s op­po­si­tion lead­ers say they will push the Lib­eral govern­ment to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion in 2019.

Tim Hous­ton, Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader and MLA for Pic­tou East, says with the prov­ince spend­ing over $4 bil­lion a year on health care, there is a need to be in­no­va­tive in order to fix sys­tems he says just aren’t work­ing.

The prov­ince has grap­pled with per­sis­tent doc­tor short­ages and emer­gency room clo­sures in re­cent years.

Hous­ton points to the pro­vin­cial wait list, which saw only its sec­ond slight de­crease in the past year as of Dec. 1, with 55,801 peo­ple reg­is­tered with­out a fam­ily doc­tor.

While he doesn’t of­fer a spe­cific so­lu­tion, Hous­ton said a dis­cus­sion is needed about how to get peo­ple health care where and when they need it.

“We are go­ing to be rais­ing those is­sues and mak­ing sure the govern­ment un­der­stands that it has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to do bet­ter,” he said in a year-end in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press.

Hous­ton said the cur­rent sys­tem was de­signed to ad­dress acute care and needs to fo­cus more on chronic con­di­tions and pre­ven­tion given the prov­ince’s ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.

He also be­lieves throw­ing more money at prob­lem ar­eas isn’t a panacea for what ills the sys­tem.

“Be­fore you just spend more money you should un­der­stand what you are spend­ing,” he said.

Hous­ton said he be­lieves health care spend­ing should be “tight­ened up” to elim­i­nate waste be­fore more money is com­mit­ted.

He said ar­eas his party will watch closely in 2019, in­clude the devel­op­ment of the one-pa­tien­tone-record sys­tem and the es­ti­mated $2-bil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment of the QEII Health Sciences Cen­tre in Hal­i­fax.

The govern­ment an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that the bulk of the hospi­tal project would be funded through a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship.

“We can’t take our eye of the ball on that one,” said Hous­ton. “We need to make sure that it’s done in a good and ef­fec­tive man­ner and ques­tion whether it is im­prov­ing health care.”

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