MacLEOD: Premier McNeil must fight for Cape Breton

September 13, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Cape Breton Island is a beautiful place with wonderful people and I am lucky to call it my home. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to convince people to stay or attract newcomers. This is especially true when it comes to doctors. Cape Breton’s doctor shortage is a huge concern. Our family doctors and specialists are already leaving for opportunities elsewhere. The last thing this region needs is another black mark against us, but that is exactly what the Ottawa Liberals are doing with the new proposed tax changes.

Ottawa’s proposed tax changes take direct aim at doctors. If the changes go ahead, it will have a major negative impact on healthcare services across the island. Nova Scotia doctors’ wages are among the lowest in the country and taxes, like income tax, are among the highest. Adding more costs to life in rural Cape Breton will push more doctors to leave for job opportunities in places like Ontario and the United States. Is it fair for the government to make it harder to find a family doctor, in a province where tens of thousands of Nova Scotians already don’t have one? I say no.

The Cape Breton Medical Staff Association has publicly opposed the proposed tax changes and outlined their concerns in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The association says rural physicians in Cape Breton already face unique barriers, including challenges with doctor recruitment and retention. They maintain that this drastic tax change could do serious damage to the already fragile healthcare system in this region, and I agree.

Although I am pleased to see Cape Breton doctors taking a strong stance against these proposed tax changes, it is very concerning that Premier Stephen McNeil has been silent on the issue. It’s clear the Ottawa Liberals’ reckless policies will hurt Cape Breton’s struggling healthcare system. That’s why our Progressive Conservative team, led by Jamie Baillie, continues to defend Nova Scotia against the disastrous changes. Just this week, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberal Premier Dwight Ball stood up to his Ottawa counterparts and told them the proposed tax changes will have unintended consequences and hurt his province. When will Premier McNeil do the same for the people he represents?

This issue requires immediate leadership from both the provincial and federal governments. We can’t let them make it even harder to recruit and retain doctors in Cape Breton. Contact your local Liberal Members of Parliament, Rodger Cuzner and Mark Eyking, as soon as possible to raise your concerns. You can also help us pressure the Liberals to stop these unfair tax changes by signing our petition at your local Progressive Conservative MLA’s constituency office, or online at

Alfie Macleod is the Progressive Conservative MLA for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg.