Less talk, more action on doctors shortage in Cape Breton

June 21, 2016 at 9:51 am

Rejection of public inquiry into doctor shortage an insult, says MacLeod

Alfie MacLeod, MLA

SYDNEY, NS – Cape Breton’s Progressive Conservative MLAs say Premier McNeil must take concrete and measured action to address the doctors shortage in Cape Breton.

“After a public meeting that saw nearly 1,000 in attendance, it’s clear that that the premier and the Health Minister have no idea what’s going on in Cape Breton,” says Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg MLA Alfie MacLeod. “There’s no willingness to listen. There’s no desire to solve the doctors shortage crisis.”

Questions about the state of healthcare in Cape Breton dominated the agenda when McNeil spoke to the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce on June 14. While he said he admired the passion at the public meeting on June 12, he rejected a public inquiry into the doctor shortage crisis, stating “it would not be an efficient use of time.”

“I can’t believe the gall of this premier to say that a doctor-supported public inquiry would be a waste of time,” says MacLeod. “I think all Nova Scotians see that this premier and Health Minister are a waste of time. To reject a reasonable request that will start to solve this problem is an insult to the people of Nova Scotia.”

The PC Caucus supports the call for inquiry, which was proposed by Cape Breton anaesthesiologist Dr. Craig Stone.

“I’ve been saying it since this issue became front and centre: in order to address a problem, you first have to admit there is one,” says MacLeod. “Despite holding a Liberal cabinet meeting in Cape Breton, the premier and Health Minister brought no solutions to the table, only empty promises and old excuses.”

Even the government-proposed doctors’ contract, which is currently before physicians, came with a warning from doctors: it doesn’t solve the big problems facing the healthcare system.

The doctor-patient ratio is above the national average in the Central Zone, but below the average in the Western, Northern and Eastern Zones, which includes Cape Breton.

“Minister Glavine has only offered guesses on why people can’t get a family doctor in Cape Breton,” says Northside-Westmount MLA Eddie Orrell. “First, he said some Nova Scotians don’t want a family doctor. Now he says the situation on Cape Breton was created by workers returning home from out west. He’s just making things up as he goes along. Why is he making excuses? Why doesn’t he want an inquiry to find the real answers?”

Meanwhile, a clinic for patients without a family doctor in Digby is in jeopardy because no doctors are available. Those in Sou’west Nova Scotia join the 10,000 people on Cape Breton Island without a family doctor.