It’s no secret that healthcare services in Cape Breton are lacking. With a hospital with the highest mortality rate in the country and ERs facing chronic closures, Cape Bretoners want to know that someone is planning for improvements for the Island’s healthcare.
The latest numbers from the NSHA show a more than 35% increase in those living in the Eastern Zone looking for a family doctor, and a provincial record-high of 64,921 Nova Scotians looking for a family doctor.
Wednesday during Question Period, Liberal Health Minister Zach Churchill punted and dodged a series of questions about hospital services and local decision making, stating that they were not his responsibility, but that of the NSHA in Halifax. PC MLAs Murray Ryan and Brian Comer were left wondering - who is in charge of healthcare on Cape Breton Island?
“Cape Breton faces unique challenges in retaining and recruiting healthcare professionals,” says Brian Comer, MLA for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg. “When I raise questions about healthcare concerns for Cape Breton, I expect the Minister of Health to do more than hide behind decision-makers at the NSHA in Halifax.
“Ultimately, it is the Minister of Health who is responsible for answering questions raised in the Legislature about the state of healthcare - not civil servants.”
Northside-Westmount MLA Murray Ryan faced similar responses from the Liberal Health Minister when asking about the Northside General’s emergency room, which has been closed for more than a year.
“Again, that does fall under the operational authority of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, not the Department of Health and Wellness,” said Liberal Health Minister Zach Churchill, before praising his government’s investments in healthcare infrastructure in Cape Breton.
Ryan says that information seems to be getting lost in translation in its journey between Cape Breton and Halifax.
“There seems to be a disconnect between the Minister, the Health Authority in Halifax, and the folks in Cape Breton who are looking for less talk and more solutions,” says Ryan.
Under the PC’s Hope for Health plan, there would be no more confusion as to who is in charge of local health care as it would restore local decision making and to establish a clinical health services plan in every region that would be accountable at the local level.