Nova Scotia government to release plan to address challenges in province’s ailing health care system

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston answers a question during a meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers in Halifax on March 21.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative government is set to release its plan today to fix the province’s ailing health care system.

The Conservatives were elected last August largely on a single-issue campaign focused on promises to solve health care problems.

“There’s a lot in the plan, it’s important,” Premier Tim Houston told reporters on Thursday.

Houston said it would incorporate much of what was heard during a fall public tour by government officials who sought input from nurses, doctors and other medical professionals.

He said he would also outline what the government believes can be done within its mandate.

In their campaign platform, the Conservatives promised to increase the number of family doctors and nurses, strengthen the mental health system and increase the number of long-term care beds in the province by 2,500 . There was also a promise to cut surgery wait times to the national average within 18 months.

But doctor shortages have plagued the system for years, and on April 1, the province’s primary care waiting list hit an all-time high, with just over 88,000 people saying they don’t have a doctor. family.

Meanwhile, health officials said Tuesday the province’s acute care bed occupancy rate was 106%.

The government’s 2022-23 budget tabled in late March contains $5.7 billion for health care, an increase of $413.4 million over last year’s spending. Within this budgetary envelope, $17.5 million will enable the performance of 2,500 additional surgical procedures.

Houston said the funding associated with a federal contribution to surgeries should help reduce the backlog.

“We’re very focused on that and we’re going to do things that think outside the box to make sure people get the surgeries they need,” Houston said.

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin said he doubted the plan would live up to the government’s election promises.

“I would be surprised if they think they can still achieve some of the goals they promised to get elected,” Rankin said. “They won’t fix health care in this term, I can guarantee you that. This is an oversimplification of the challenges of our system.

NDP House Leader Claudia Chender wants to see a plan that incorporates more transparency after the government fired the CEO and board of the Nova Scotia Health Authority and replaced them with a ” management team” of four people last September.

There are still no plans in place for the team to conduct some of its activities in public like the board did. Chender said that’s a problem given the challenges in health care.

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