5 Experts Speak Out Against the Liberals’ health plan

Dr. John Ross:

I think it’s going to be administrative upheaval and a lot of busywork and cost us a fair amount of money in terms of severance packages and just the confusion that will ensue. I think at the beginning it will cause havoc. It’ll be a complete distractor.

Bruce Saunders, board chairman, Cumberland Health Authority:

Mr. McNeil plans to dismantle a successful “health authority” structure to save $13 million. The daily cost of the entire provincial health-care system is approximately $10.7 million. Does he seriously plan to destroy the current system of governance to save approximately one day’s operating expense?

Hattie Dyck, former newspaper reporter:

For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone in rural Nova Scotia would want to be governed by one super health board for the total province and one for the IWK Children’s Hospital which is what Liberal Leader Stephen MacNeil is advocating.

CUPE Nova Scotia:

The news out of Alberta that the health minister there has fired the entire Board of Alberta Health Services should serve as a wakeup call for those who are pushing the idea of a so-called “superboard” here in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Nurses Union:

There has been much public discussion over the past year concerning plans to amalgamate district health authorities. In the past, Nova Scotia has undergone several variations of health care reform, causing disarray in the system to the detriment of nurses and the patients they care for. Future changes threaten to invite labour unrest, employer instability, and challenges to job security as well as seniority levels – all distractions from real and pressing needs in health care.

Shifting to super boards leads to more expensive administration costs. Alberta saw an $80 million increase in administration spending after implementing a super board in their province, over and above the cost of making the initial switch.

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.

The Liberals’ communication strategy

Howl.

“Each evening they come back, howling like dogs… snarling invective, drawn daggers in their teeth. They think they’ll never get caught.” – Psalm 59:6-7

Chronicle Herald Associate Publisher Ian Thompson, opening with a bible quote of his own from the Book of Matthew, says the NDP government has gone Biblical. It acted decisively to calls for urgent action on issues concerning citizens, and somehow this is wrong. That some of those calls for action came from the Herald itself, some just days ago, is testimony to the fickle times we live in.

But the real biblical story will come this morning, moments after acting Finance Minister Graham Steele issues another steady-as-she-goes fiscal update.

  • Stephen McNeil will howl wild allegations of trickery on the part of 30-year civil servants in Finance and Treasury Board who prepared the fiscal update for the NDP.
  • Liberal staff will take to Twitter to howl heaps of text at the Bond Rating Agencies who must be conspiring with those same civil servants and the NDP to lie about the Province’s credit rating being at an all-time high.
  • They will howl hypocritical harangues about “corporate welfare,” while simultaneously taking credit for $20 million in government support secured for the new ferry in Yarmouth, and posing for photo-ops at the Port Hawkesbury mill (that would be closed if they had the chance, taking nearly 3% of the economy down with it).
  • They will howl “foul play” at government announcements of recent months, like funding for children’s dental care, the Main Street program for tourism, and funding for mental health in schools – things they cut when they were in office.

The Liberals are promoting a politics of negativity in Nova Scotia, where they cheer for bad news, and attack good news as spin.

So we agree with Mr. Thompson: call the election. It’s time voters understand that Mr. McNeil’s bite will be quite a bit worse than his bark, and that Nova Scotians don’t dare take the risk.

How’s September?

Liberals entitled to their entitlements?

Stephen McNeil’s decision to let Liberal MLA Manning MacDonald take a month-long vacation while the Legislature sat could mean a fine for the MLA this week as the all-party Management Commission meets to review the case.

Frank Corbett, one of the NDP’s commission members, said he will propose a specific penalty when the commission meets on Thursday. “He has been absent for extended periods of time for the last couple of years, and we think that something should be done,” Corbett told the Chronicle Herald.

Corbett said there are valid reasons to be absent but a month-long vacation is certainly not one of them. Tory Leader Jamie Baillie seems to have the common sense to agree. And PC Party House leader Chris d’Entremont said he will likely support docking Manning for his paid vacation.

The NDP have also released a video showing Stephen McNeil getting caught by journalists on the issue. McNeil claimed there was no rule and wanted clear guidelines. The problem? There is a rule. And clear guidelines. McNeil really embarrassed himself on this issue. Liberals feeling “entitled to their entitlements” is something Nova Scotians really dislike about his party.

In in the final third of the video, Stephen McNeil is asked a follow-up question – should the Liberal Caucus hand back the funding it got connected to Manning MacDonald? His answer? No.