26 Apr Cuts won’t cure care

Published in the Chronicle Herald, April 26, 2012

By John Hutton, Nova Scotia Health Coalition

Nova Scotians are understandably worried about disruptions at Capital Health. With wait times as long as they are, no one wants to hear that their surgery has been cancelled. Nobody understands the human element of health care better than workers themselves, who see the challenges of the system daily as they care for us. The decision to go on strike is not taken lightly.

A strike is only a symptom of a larger problem: chronic understaffing resulting from chronic underfunding. Expect it to get worse. The federal Conservative government has announced more than $21 billion in cuts to public health care. The Nova Scotia NDP is reducing the rate of growth in health spending, which effectively means cuts.

It is an extraordinary challenge to deliver the best care possible while also being fair to workers, but it can be done. Public-sector solutions, not cuts, will improve health care.

A national pharmacare program could save $10.7 billion. Those savings could then hire more staff and reduce wait times. Extending medicare is the only way to strengthen health care and it’s a better alternative to cuts. The province must stand up to the federal government’s health care cuts and fairly compensate health care workers.