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Nova Scotia premier open to guaranteeing outcomes to get health-care funding from feds

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says there is no pushback from the province when it comes to guaranteeing outcomes and performances for additional health-care funding from the federal government.

“We want the federal government to be a partner in the funding of health care. That’s the deal,” Houston told CTV Atlantic.

But Houston says the federal government needs to pay its fair share, noting the feds used to pay 50 per cent of health-care costs. That’s now down to 22 per cent.

“Personally, every time we spend money, we need to be accountable for it,” said Houston.

The province recently announced major health-care infrastructure spending to bring 500 new bed units to the Halifax Infirmary while also developing four new surgical wards.

“I’m excited because health-care workers I’m hearing from are excited about it,” said Houston. “As a government, people will see we’re not shy about investing in health care. We want to get health care fixed.”

While the funding primarily goes to services in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Houston added “there’s a lot going on in Cape Breton,” while noting “Halifax is the centre for a lot of specialists and a lot of surgeons.”

“We know the investments that are needed are not limited to Halifax,” he said.

Houston dismissed the idea that any quick fixes exist to help alleviate the province’s health-care crisis. Instead, he touted the infrastructure plan that’s expected to take five years to complete.

On the topic of surgical wait times, Houston pointed to the province’s move to redirect eye surgeries to other facilities to help clear up backlogs.

“It will take time but we want to get those wait lists to what’s acceptable,” he said.

With roughly one in eight Nova Scotians on the wait list for a family doctor, Houston praised the success of the virtual care program – a program he says is being scaled up to meet the growing demand for virtual health services.

Houston also committed to recruiting more family doctors, while exploring options for nurse practitioners and other health-care professionals “to work to their full scope of practice.”

“It’s a many hands thing,” said Houston. “There’s no one silver answer to all of this.”

Earlier this year, British Columbia announced a new payment model for family doctors in an effort to incentivize prospective health-care professionals to work in the province.

The plan, set to begin in February 2023, will see family doctors paid for time spent with a patient rather than the number of patients served, while also helping with office and administrative costs.

When asked about Nova Scotia’s payment model for family doctors, Houston noted the province is focused on identifying health-care professionals with a connection to Nova Scotia, adding the sector has more to offer than a fair wage.

“This is a beautiful province. It’s incredible how much we have to offer,” said Houston, who failed to detail the range of incentives he described.

With several pilot projects related to health care ongoing in the promise, Houston said he’s “really optimistic” that 2023 will be the year that Nova Scotians begin to see an improvement in health care.


On the relationship between the province and the federal government, Houston says his team is working productively on a lot of files.

But one thing Houston’s government is at odds with is the carbon tax.

“That’s just one we disagree on. I don’t think a carbon tax, which is designed to modify behaviors, it’s not an effective way to help the planet and this province,” said Houston.

Houston believes Nova Scotia has the potential to become a leader in combating the climate crisis by harnessing wind power and green hydrogen to revolutionize the province’s economy and environmental future.

“That’s where I would like the federal government to get aligned with us and support us on those types of things,” said Houston. “Don’t penalize Nova Scotians with a carbon tax when they fill up their car.”

The province recently released climate projections showing Nova Scotia is on track to rise by five degrees by 2100 if global greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut significantly.

The new data came 11 years after the last climate change projections were released by the province in 2011, and 17 years since the last provincial risk assessment in 2005.

It remains to be seen how the province will fund its 68-point program to fight the climate crisis.

“We’re committed to everything we can to protect the planet, for sure,” said Houston. Top Stories


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