Liberals accused of avoiding scrutiny on doctor recruitment

ST. PETER’S: A Strait area MLA is accusing the governing Liberals of shutting down discussion of doctor recruitment in Nova Scotia.

On October 30, Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon submitted the topic of recruiting strategies within the Nova Scotia Health Authority before the legislature’s human resources committee, but according to a press release from the Progressive Conservative caucus, the Liberal caucus members on the committee used their majority to defer the topic to the health committee.

“As you know we have a huge doctor shortage across the province and so it’s a valid topic to bring forward within the resources committee scope and it was basically shot down…,” said Paon, who is one of two PC MLAs on the committee.

The press release went on to assert that the committee currently has no members, no set dates to meet, and there is no guarantee the health committee will agree to the topic when it does meet.

“The health committee doesn’t, in fact, exist in practice yet and it probably will not be up and running with members and have any kind of an agenda set until well into the new year, if we’re fortunate to get it started at that time,” the PC MLA told The Reporter.

“One committee should also never make suggestions as far as what another committee should be putting onto their agenda. It should be up to the members of that committee to decide what they want to bring forward to the agenda. I’m not sure that this topic will ever see the light of day.”

Paon says this government is hiding information from Nova Scotians because they have failed to recruit doctors and refuse to answer for it.

The Cape Breton-Richmond MLA explained that doctor recruitment is directly linked to the regular closure of Emergency Rooms, like that at the Strait-Richmond Hospital.

“The hospitals, for the most part, the ERs are closed because there’s no physician available to cover the shifts and that’s the problem at the Strait-Richmond Hospital,” Paon noted. “We don’t have a physician that’s able to cover a shift so the ER is closed again today. That’s not acceptable. I’m not sure when it became acceptable in government that any ER at any hospital should be closed at any time. It’s not acceptable.”

Paon says that the closures at Strait-Richmond are a Strait area issue, as residents from Guysborough, Antigonish, Richmond and Inverness counties rely on the hospital’s services.

Paon said referring the matter to the health committee amounts to stall tactics. She added it is ridiculous that so many people do not have access to Primary Health Providers.

“It’s not acceptable that a majority government consistently shoots down topics that come before either the public accounts committee or human resources committee, like yesterday and tried to basically utilize stall tactics to not bring to light really important issues that all Nova Scotians want answers to.”