Protests expected at Cape Breton health-care announcement
Published Sunday, March 24, 2019 6:49PM ADT
Protestors say they will be making their voices heard Monday, as Nova Scotia’s minister of health is expected to make a major announcement in Sydney.
N.S. Health Minister Randy Delorey is scheduled to hold a news conference on Monday at Sydney’s Membertou Trade and Convention Centre.
Members of one community group plan on attending the news conference in protest, and predict that Delorey’s announcement will be met with mixed reaction.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a very welcoming one,” says Gordon MacDonald, a member of the community group ‘Capers 4 Healthcare’.
Capers 4 Healthcare have held protest on the Canso Causeway and elsewhere since the McNeil government’s last health announcement in Cape Breton in June of 2018, which included their plans to close the Northside General and New Waterford hospitals.
MacDonald says the island’s health care crisis has only gotten worse since then.
“There’s nothing left here,” says MacDonald. “Our emergency rooms are flooded, and the people on our front lines are getting overburdened and stressed out. What’s going to happen when they burn out?”
But the emergency room chief for the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Eastern zone is cautiously optimistic about what Monday’s announcement will bring.
Dr. Chris Milburn says he expects the announcement will be a large investment into building new emergency rooms at the Regional and Glace Bay Hospitals, which he says are badly needed.
“It’s a pretty big investment going into Cape Breton. I don’t know the numbers, you’ll find those out, but my understanding is it’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars that are being invested in new facilities,” says Milburn.
The government is billing Monday’s announcement as an update on its health care redevelopment project for the area, of which the two planned hospital closures are part.
Gordon MacDonald wonders why the announcement isn’t being held in one of the communities that stand to be affected by the closures.
“The interesting part is that he chose again not to come to the communities where he’s choosing to shut the hospitals down, either North Sydney or New Wateford,” says MacDonald.
Milburn says that while losing those facilities is a tough pill for people to swallow, emergency room upgrades would make a big difference for both patients and staff, and perhaps make it easier to recruit new doctors to the Island.
“It has the potential to be positive,” says Milburn. “I’ve said it a number of times, we’re going to have to hold the government’s feet to the flames over the next few years to make sure this gets done right, but I think if it is done right, it could be a big improvement in how we provide services in the area.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald