The first Standing Committee on Health since February provided very few answers to six months worth of questions of testing capacity, cancer screenings, COVID-19 preparedness, or whether Minister of Health Randy Delorey has set benchmarks for any of the above.
“The only measure we have to determine the Minister’s sense of urgency on resuming these tests is the information he has and is seeking,” says Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston. “I’m disappointed that Nova Scotians still have no clarity on when they can expect to receive the treatment they need that had been cancelled.”
Minister Delorey was not at the Committee today to answer questions.
The PC Caucus sounded the alarm in August about the effects of delayed cancer screenings, related to COVID-19. Deputy Minister Dr. Kevin Orrell indicated that the Minister hasn’t provided a deadline for the cancer screening testing backlog to be cleared, and he does not know how big the backlog is. The Committee heard that the question has not been asked and that the exact details are not tracked within the Department of Health.
“Dr. Strang made clear that we are going to be living with COVID-19,” said Houston. “Minister Delorey needs to direct the resources and properly guide the healthcare system to ensure it doesn’t fall further behind on testing.”
The Committee witnesses gave no indication that Nova Scotia's testing capacity for screenings like mammograms, colorectal testing, etc. would resume or increase to address the backlog.
“Nova Scotians rely on screening tests for early detection and potentially life saving measures,” says Colton LeBlanc, Progressive Conservative Critic for Preventative Healthcare.
“We cannot afford to go months or years without reinstating these routine tests. Dr. Strang has said COVID-19 could be a reality we live with for three years. What is the cost to Nova Scotians’ health by not having adequate testing and screening as it will mean more illnesses going undetected and untreated?”
“We have yet to see a plan laid out for appropriate measures ensuring readiness for an increase in cases. They have been saying we are all in this together, in order to all be on the same page we have to know what the plan is to keep everyone in our province safe,” says Houston. “We went in hopeful and were let down.”