After weeks of ‘exploring solutions’ the Rankin Liberal government appears to have abandoned any effort to save the Sydney walk-in clinic.
The walk-in clinic is only staying open because the doctors are paying out of their own pocket to cover the overhead. Despite no action from the Rankin Liberals, a senior Cabinet Minister called the issue ‘resolved’ on April 23.
To the PC MLAs representing constituents who rely on this clinic, this inaction by the Liberal government speaks to weak leadership.
“With more than 8,800 Cape Bretoners looking for a family doctor, the government can’t limit access to care even further by allowing this clinic to close,” says Murray Ryan, PC MLA for Northside-Westmount.
To make matters worse, Cape Bretoners were shut out of a pilot project to bring virtual care options to Nova Scotians on the Need a Family Doctor Registry. It was an idea lifted from PC Leader Tim Houston’s Hope for Health plan, but Houston’s plan didn't ignore Cape Breton.
“The Liberals haven’t brought doctors to Cape Breton like they promised,” says Brian Comer, PC MLA for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg. “And now the doctors who are here are paying out of pocket to ensure their community can continue to access care. That’s a failure of leadership from Iain Rankin."
“The Liberals shouldn’t wait until the clinic closes before they turn their heads to this issue,” says Keith Bain, PC MLA for Victoria -The Lakes. “This clinic and the community have been asking the government for help for months and are tired of being ignored.”
During the Spring Session of the Legislature, Liberal Health Minister Zach Churchill brushed off questions about healthcare in Cape Breton stating that he couldn’t speak to the operational decisions of the NSHA in Halifax.
The PC MLAs say that there has been enough delay and that the government needs to present a plan to ensure the community can continue to rely on accessing care from this clinic.
Under the PC’s Hope for Health plan is a commitment to restore local decision-making and to establish a clinical health services plan in every region that would be accountable for doctor recruitment on a local level.