May 2, 2021: It's been a difficult week

I know it’s been a difficult week. A lot has been thrown at you.

Your children are home, many of you can no longer visit loved ones in hospital or long-term care, your business may have had to close its doors.

I know healthcare workers are back to working in very stressful environments with the increase in COVID cases and the number of patients in hospital. A lot of businesses feel left behind and unsupported, and I know a lot of students struggle with online learning and miss their friends and peers.

Please know that I’m always available to chat. Feel free to send me an email or give me a call. I’ve also been doing Facebook Live video broadcasts. It gives me an opportunity to answer your questions and listen to your comments. If you’re able to join, click here. I start most weeknights around 8:30pm.

What else happened this week:

  • Volunteer firefighters who offer Medical First Response (MFR) services were promised priority COVID-19 vaccinations and fitting for N95 masks on February 16th, but firefighters say that those communications from the province have since stalled on vaccines and are only just starting on N95 masks. Adding insult to injury, during a news conference it was said that volunteer firefighters who perform advanced healthcare responses have already been vaccinated. This news came as a surprise to many firefighters who confirmed that this is not the case. Also, I can’t believe that over a year into the pandemic, the very people who arrive first on an emergency scene are just getting fitted for N95 masks. MLA Tory Rushton, who was Chief at the Oxford Fire Department before being elected, has been bringing this matter the attention it deserves. Like Tory said, for the safety of both the firefighters and those they respond to - they need to have priority access to vaccines and to be supplied with proper masks.
  • PC MLA and Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women Critic Karla MacFarlane says the Rankin Liberals must prioritize pregnant individuals in the vaccine rollout. Like Karla said, the Premier should learn lessons from other jurisdictions and put pregnant Nova Scotians at the top of the list for the shot. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended vaccines to pregnant individuals pending sign-off from a physician. This comes after mounting concern from healthcare professionals in Ontario after seeing a rise in pregnant patients entering ICUs battling COVID-19. Experts are encouraging the shot, with studies showing that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to require ventilation and three times more likely to be hospitalized.
  • I know we’ve been on this and we’re beating a dead horse, but we will continue until they fix it. We have 250 to 300 people a day coming into Nova Scotia via air. In the last 24 hours we have had at least three exposure notifications coming from flights...suggesting that’s one way the virus is getting in. Why aren’t we testing at airports? By testing at the airport, we can identify the virus as soon as it has entered our province. People will still have to isolate for 14 days, this doesn’t change that. It does provide an added layer of protection to Nova Scotians and makes those who are in isolation think twice before breaking the quarantine rules.

Tip of the hat

To the lab technicians, we know you are all under extraordinary pressure right now and we want you to know that we appreciate the countless hours you’re putting in away from family.

I’m sorry the government did not resource or properly plan for the surge in tests. We need to provide our labs and those working in them with more resources and supports - immediately.

Failing grade

Nova Scotians have done everything that has been asked of them.

It now appears that the Premier can’t keep up with his end of the bargain.

On Friday afternoon, the Premier announced testing changes. As of Friday there were about 45,000 test results that have not been completed, and they are worried about what this means for positive case numbers. When asked when they knew about this, the reply was “late yesterday [Thursday].” It’s hard to believe that because Friday morning, the Premier was on CTV’s Your Morning program and told host Ben Mulroney that:

We’re expedited.

We’re working on all cylinders.

We continue to do asymptomatic testing. More than any other province.”

The Premier said that on Friday morning knowing full well that in a matter of hours, he would be telling Nova Scotians to think twice before they book their asymptomatic COVID-19 tests.

Let me be clear: the public, healthcare workers, and lab technicians have done everything that’s been asked of them. They’ve gone above and beyond throughout this entire pandemic.

Nova Scotians have even let slide the fact that the Premier was opening borders and loosening restrictions by increasing customer capacity to 100 percent at restaurants and gyms, and increasing the allowable numbers at sports and arts events at the precise time that the third wave was clearly rolling toward us. They let slide the fact that no commercial passengers were being tested on arrival from out-of-province at our airport.

We didn’t even have to look to Ontario. We saw what was happening in our neighbouring province, New Brunswick, and we were warned about the impact of loosened restrictions.

There was a great piece in the Herald from April 9th on this. I’ll link it here. Gail Lethbridge noticed that, for the first time, there was mixed messaging coming from a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Strang and Premier Rankin.

This most recent Friday press conference was overwhelming. Thursday, Premier Rankin highlighted a downward trend in cases and said it was due to early action and restrictions. He let news outlets report on a positive trend. Yet on Friday, he walked all that back when he reported 67 new cases and announced it was not an accurate picture of our case count on account of a backlog of tests that would include many positives.


On Tuesday, the Standing Committee on Community Services will meet to discuss Supporting Community Transportation. The witnesses include Paul LaFleche, Deputy Minister from the Department of Transportation and Active Transit.

Until next week,