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.

Super Boards centralize services at expense of fair access for rural populations

As the NSGEU questioned Nova Scotia Liberals last week about why they were polling about taking away the right-to-strike, they also divulged that the polling included a question about one Super Board for health.

Research by the Conference Board of Canada last week gave Nova Scotia top marks for our health system, with A grades in categories including overall performance and the number of family doctors and specialists.

Why would the Liberals decide now is the time to dismantle the district health authorities in favour of one super board? As they lay out their platform, they claim this to be one of their pegs.

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.

Stephen-McNeil-LiberalWhy would anyone in rural Nova Scotia want to be governed by one health Super Board run out of Halifax? Cutting out our local boards, cutting back on the front-line staff, or cutting the right-to-strike are all destructive.

These past four years, the province’s health care unions, including the NSGEU and the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, were instrumental in assisting in the most important advancements in our health care system.

  • The unions have helped to make Nova Scotia’s new model of emergency care, Collaborative Emergency Centres, a success that other provinces are copying.
  • They supported Nova Scotia’s first mental health strategy – a real milestone for Nova Scotia delivering tangible differences.
  • And health care unions have long fought for a reversal of the Liberal cuts to dental care coverage for children – a victory they have won with this year’s budget.

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 at the expense of fair access for rural populations. Political parties would be wise not to shake what only needs to be stirred.

Liberals polling about banning strikes?

Stephen-McNeil-LiberalNova Scotia’s Liberals have a history of flashing left and turning right. An opinion poll run by Gandolf Group suggests a few paths Stephen McNeil would drive down if given the chance.

The following is a list of possible policies and initiatives that a provincial government could undertake in Nova Scotia. Please tell us whether you would strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose each.

  • Breaking Nova Scotia Power’s monopoly.
  • Banning healthcare strikes.
  • Accelerating development of Nova Scotia’s natural gas deposits for export.

The first potential Liberal policy seems to be more of a commercial than an energy policy. The latter policy option seems to be testing the waters for a fracking boom should the Liberals ever get elected to government. It is the middle option that Nova Scotians should be concerned about the most.

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.