While some protest Cape Breton hospital closures, others see bright side of restructuring
A smaller-than-expected crowd of a couple hundred people marched outside the provincial building in Sydney to protest hospital closures and unfair equalization Wednesday afternoon.
But most of the talk was about the hospital restructuring, with the growing perception that Halifax is growing while Cape Breton is losing services.
Protester Brian Sheppard objected to the way the announcement was made, saying it was “sneaky” and “underhanded.”
“Come down, tell somebody, then pack up, and head back to Halifax,” he said.
Said another protester: “That's the problem with this government. They don't consult, they just do.”
Back in Halifax, Premier Stephen McNeil maintained that closing two island hospitals and expanding two others is the right decision.
“The status quo was not acceptable,” he said. “When you have two emergency rooms - one closed for 6,000 hours, and the other closed for 4,000 hours - and you can't staff them, they know that we have to do something.”
Now that everyone has had a couple of days to digest government’s new plan, some say the more they look at it, the more they like it.
Dr. Monika Dutt practises in New Waterford, one of two communities losing its hospital.
She says while details could have been communicated better, the new plan could lead to better care.
“I think things that will strengthen primary care, and team-based care, and working between different health care providers, is a positive thing,” she said. “And I know there's been a lot of people who have been working to have that happen, over many years.”
Cape Breton Regional Municipality Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger says he just wants what’s best for residents.
“I just think that when people need access to health care, they'll get it; that's my hope,” he said. “It's been said that many doctors, professionals, won't come here because of our present facilities.”
At the rally, some say Cape Breton is now in another fight for the long haul.
“It’s affecting me, it's affecting everyone in the whole area, and it's time for us guys to stand up,” said Brad Nicholson.“Cape Bretoners got to stand up for the things we really, really need.”
Dutt says it’s important to keep a close eye on how this controversial plan will be rolled out.
“We need to make sure that they stay with what they're saying they’re going to do, and that there are actual positives for communities, rather than a loss.”
With files CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.