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Nova Scotia health-care system will get worse before it gets better: premier


Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston conceded Thursday things are likely to get worse for the health-care system before they improve.

This comes days after Halifax's IWK Health Centre revealed its emergency department has been operating at overcapacity for the past six weeks, as it's seeing more patients than ever and it's anticipating it will get worse.

As it stands, nearly one-in-10 people in the province do not have a doctor and the number continues to climb.

“We were very clear with Nova Scotians, that it would cost money and take time, and we were also clear that it would probably get worse before it gets better," said Houston during a media scrum.

In April, the Houston government presented its 31-page "Action for Health" plan and guide to tackle the province's health-care crisis.

It included plans to address doctor recruitment and retention, improve access to care, and modernize the health-care system by replacing outdated infrastructure and improving access to online health.

However, critics and opposition parties slammed the PC's long-awaited health-care plan, for not having any specific targets or benchmarks to meet.

Houston said those benchmarks are coming to the public early this summer.

"We did commit to having some dates and some benchmarks and that work is ongoing," said Houston.  "I think the commitment was that Nova Scotians would start to see that heading into the early summer."

It's been 10 months since the PCs have been in power and NDP Leader Gary Burrill says they've yet to reveal how they'll live up to their election promise and fix the health-care system.

"The difference between a list of aspirations and a plan, is that a plan has benchmarks, it has a measuring system and a reporting mechanism," said Burrill. "So, that is not a plan. We are at the 10-month mark of the government that said they had arrived to fix health care and at this stage of the game, they do not yet have a plan."

Liberal MLA for Bedford South Braedon Clark said no one expects the government to fix the health-care system in 10 months, but Nova Scotians do expect some progress and they deserve to see a plan.

"Nova Scotians do expect to see some kind of progress and some kind of standard against which we can measure success or failure," said Clark.

Clark said all conventional medical standards are getting worse and pointed to the 95,000 Nova Scotians who are on the waitlist for a family doctor.

"I think all we should be asking for as opposition and all that Nova Scotians should be asking of the government is, what are the standards in which you measure progress?" asked Clark. "And then we can sit back in three years and determine, did you fix health care or didn't you?"

The surgery backlog in the province currently has more than 25,000 patients waiting for a procedure, and it's clear the pandemic has had a major impact on the health-care system.

But there are also longstanding issues at play, according to Doctors Nova Scotia President Dr. Leisha Hawker.

"We had long wait times and we had a lot of patients without family doctors for a long time," said Hawker.  "But now the barriers have just further increased because of the backlog created by the pandemic."

Hawker says having clear benchmarks and targets would help all parties who are working to help fix the healthcare crisis.

"If you don't know where you are and where you are going it is hard to keep track of the goal," said Hawker. Top Stories

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