Stephen McNeil’s health Super Board would be Super Bad

Stephen McNeilA Cumberland County council meeting tackled the troubling plan of Stephen McNeil to create a health Super Board in Nova Scotia.

A district health authority official asked the council to reject the Super Board policy.

“It was an unusual move,” Warden Keith Hunter told The Chronicle Herald. “But boy do they have a case.”

Alberta’s SuperBoard has been a disaster. Wait times skyrocketed and according to an internal Alberta government document, emergency rooms in that province were close to a “near collapse”.

There were no cost savings either. The first full fiscal year with Alberta’s SuperBoard saw administration costs rise to $390 million, an increase of $46 million.

When asked about the Cumberland meeting, Stephen McNeil lashed out, saying “I think it’s strange behaviour for a district health authority to use public money to save their own jobs.” The problem? They are volunteers.

Cumberland Health Authority chairman Bruce Saunders told the Herald: “Job? I’ve been doing this for 13 years and I haven’t been paid a cent. The boards of the district health authorities are all volunteers.”

It’s worrisome that Stephen McNeil, running to be Premier, did not know this.

Tearing apart a system that’s working is only going to set us back again, to the last time the health care system was in disarray – under the Liberals in the 1990′s. The Liberals paid nurses to leave the province, tried to take away the right-to-strike from healthcare workers, and caused chaos.

The province’s dedicated health care professionals are only looking out for a strong and sustainable universal health care system. Super Boards tend to centralize diagnostic and specialist services, not to mention decisions, at the expense of fair access for, and input from, rural populations. Political parties would be wise not to shake what only needs to be stirred.

On the Line

Why are the Liberals now Nova Scotia's least labour friendly party in Nova Scotia?

Why are the Liberals now Nova Scotia’s least labour friendly party in Nova Scotia?

Did the three three men vying to be Premier of Nova Scotia pass the last Labour Day before the election celebrating workers’ rights, marching in solidarity with nurses, teachers, cleaning crews and coffee shop workers. Or did they take the day off – a victory won for us by the work of the labour movement?

Once upon a time, even American Republicans cheered about their strong ties to organized labour. Now, Liberals in Canada, and of course Tories, shy away from topics ranging from the minimum wage to maternity leave.

On Labour Day, while marching and speaking at a union rally in Halifax, NDP Premier Darrell Dexter announced an important policy plank that will help workers take care of their families – better access to parental leave.

More Nova Scotians will be able to take parental leave knowing their job will be waiting for them when they return. Premier Darrell Dexter announced plans today, Sept. 2, to amend the Labour Standards Code to allow someone employed for six months with an employer to qualify for pregnancy/parental leave.

Jamie Baillie did not hide completely on the one day of the year politicians focus on labour issues. On Twitter he offered this:

Let’s take a moment today to reflect on the valuable contribution the men & women who work hard in all kinds of jobs, make to our economy. Together, we all want a growing economy, safe work conditions, and a shared, prosperous future for all Nova Scotians.

Stephen McNeil was quiet on workers’ issues this year.

We’ve talked about the Liberal Party’s history of labour relations in Nova Scotia. It bears repeating.

The last time the Liberals were in power saw the worst period of labour unrest in Nova Scotia’s recent history.

  •     Angry nurses suggested wildcat strikes after the Liberal government refused to give the chief negotiator a mandate to resume talks.
  •     Nova Scotia’s 60,000 public-sector workers said they’d walk off the job if the Liberal government didn’t restore collective bargaining.
  •     Nova Scotia’s teachers agreed to support the general strike over a 3% rollback in wages and benefits by the Liberals and a three-year salary freeze.
  •     All police forces in the province outside of Halifax signed on to take part in a wide-scale walkout against the Liberal government.

“Collective bargaining has not been abolished,” Liberal Human Resources Minister Eleanor Norrie said in the legislature at the time. “Collective bargaining has been suspended.”

Nurses, public sector workers, teachers and cops would do well to remember those savage days in Nova Scotia. The Liberals flash left, but turn right, causing quite the spectacular crash.