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Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie tours Pictou County ahead of spring sitting

Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn and PC Leader Jamie Baillie talk outside Hawboldt Machine Shop in Pictou County Friday.
Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn and PC Leader Jamie Baillie talk outside Hawboldt Machine Shop in Pictou County Friday.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority's assertion that they're doing the best they can to recruit doctors is nothing more than "political gobbledygook," according to Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie.  

Baillie was touring Pictou County Friday afternoon with Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn to hear from people about their concerns prior to the start of the legislature’s spring sitting. One of the biggest concerns he's hearing is health care.

"The family doctor issue is now a crisis," he said.

He notes recent data from Statistics Canada that says 100,000 people are without a family doctor in Nova Scotia and puts the blame squarely on the health authority and government.

"We have a health authority that is out of control, that doesn't respond to the needs of our communities and we have a premier and minister of health that won't do anything about it," Baillie said. "I think we need to rein them in. We need real leadership on family doctors and that means telling the health authority to get going on recruitment for doctors for our local communities."

He said there are doctors out there and Nova Scotians should be demanding results.

"Premier McNeil promised a family doctor for every Nova Scotian," Baillie said. "The problem has gotten worse under his management. I'm not interested in spin. I want results and I know Nova Scotians want results as well."

As an example, he said Thursday's announcement about three doctors for Digby was misleading because those doctors are only replacements for practices already there. "We're no further ahead in Digby. It's just not right to pretend it's something new when in fact they're just replacement doctors."

He said if he were in power, he would hold the health authority accountable for recruitment results.

"The health authority wants to go down the road of collaborative practices. They admit that's five to 10 years away," he said. "That's fine, but we need doctors now. It's not OK to tell everyone to just wait while they figure out their new model. We have to be recruiting doctors today while they work on collaborative practices. That's what's missing."

Mental health services are another major concern, he said, particularly in Pictou County where the short-term mental health unit at the Aberdeen Hospital closed about two years ago.

These issues are ones Baillie and the PC Party are likely to continue to attack the Liberals over as the majority party seeks to release their budget in a month's time.

Baillie believes the McNeil government delayed the start of the legislature session and presentation of the budget for political reasons.

By the time it comes out, he said, many departments will be working without a budget and it could hinder some from doing the work they're supposed to be doing.

The solution, he says, is fixed date elections. He believes it’s better for voters, “who know every four years, like clockwork, that they will pass judgment on the government….

“We can have government, budgeting and management on a normal schedule and not on a whim."

Another issue likely to come up during the election, when it’s called, is education and the handling of the teacher's job action this past winter.

Baillie says distrust is high right now between government and teachers.

"I don't blame them. The government had three years to address classroom issues and they failed. Teachers have spoke up in frustration and McNeil still failed. In fact, he went out of his way to demonize the teachers. He may have thought that was a bargaining tactic, but in fact, all he did was destroy his working relationship with our teachers."

Pushing around the teachers is not leadership, Baillie said, calling it both disruptive and unconstitutional. He said the end result will likely be a legal bill in the millions of dollars "because he failed to work out these issues in a fair-minded way."

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