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Nova Scotia doctor waitlist climbs to new high


The number of Nova Scotians on the waitlist for a family physician continues to climb to record highs.

There are now more than 145,000 patients on the Need a Family Practice Registry, up more than 2,700 from April.

Liberal Opposition Leader Zach Churchill blasted the Progressive Conservative government's track record on the issue, saying the number of those on the waitlist continues to climb.

“These new statistics are discouraging for Nova Scotians who see the health-care system rapidly deteriorating under the Houston government,” said Churchill.

“This government has made specific decisions like cutting the successful doctor incentive program in the Central Zone and putting a partisan lawyer in charge of the health-care system that has led to the ballooning of the doctor waitlist."

Premier Tim Houston has said the registry will continue to climb before it gets better but hasn't said when the number of Nova Scotians waiting could plateau.

On Wednesday the PCs announced spending for 60 new and strengthened health clinics, which they say will help Nova Scotians gain access to primary care faster.

“New and strengthened clinics will mean patients who previously would have to use an emergency department or wait to see a health-care professional at an existing location will be able to get better care, faster than ever before,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson.

“This is just one of a series of efforts we are making to improve primary care for Nova Scotians.”


The majority of people on the waitlist — more than 49,500 — are new to the province, while about 34,700 say their physician moved or closed their practice. The rest — roughly 25,900 — say their doctor retired.

Tawanda Matava, 41, moved to Nova Scotia from Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa, almost two years ago and is still without a family doctor. Though he’s healthy, he says he’s concerned.

"When you have a family doctor, you have someone who has a history of what and how you've been," said Matava. "It's someone you can go to and they can help you with your medical history because it's not just some random doctor that you just go to."

Matava says he's had to go to drop-in health clinics to seek treatment and care recently but complains the wait times have been horrendous.

“You have to commit to a whole day,” said Matava. “That’s time off work and that's production gone."

Nova Scotia Health Minister Michelle Thompson fields a question at a COVID-19 briefing in Halifax on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Churchill says the Houston PC government has turned its back on those waiting for a family physician.

"The situation with family doctors in Nova Scotia has gotten twice as bad under this government because they have given up on family practice it seems,” said Churchill.

“They have to realize they aren't going to finally fix health care until people can actually access a family doctor."

Premier Tim Houston says their government will connect more Nova Scotians to primary care through investing in clinics and strengthening others.

“Being on the list does not mean you don't have access to care,” said Houston. “That's why we have been focussed on opening up new channels to care."

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