04 Apr Media Release: Provincial Budget “failing to plan for future”

For immediate Release

Provincial Budget “failing to plan for future,” Health Network says,

Halifax, NS – The provincial budget tabled today in the legislature focused on 2 areas of health care: physicians and home care. The 2014/2015 budget provided $10.6 million to recruit and hire physicians, and $32.6 million for home care services. The Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network welcomed these improvements, but said the government “is failing to plan for the future.”

“There is no forward planning in this budget” said James Hutt, Provincial Co-ordinator for the NS Health Network. “We welcome more support for home care and doctors, but there is nothing for community health centres, midwives or mental health and addictions. These are solutions that would improve quality of care, and actually save money.”

The budget made no mention of the looming $902 million cut in federal health transfers. Starting in 2016-2017, the Harper Conservatives will scarp equalization payments and reduce health funding, resulting in a $902 million loss over 10 years.

The Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network called for the training and hire of 100 new nurse practitioners, which can see 80-90% of cases physicians can but for almost half the salary. The Health Network also called the creation of new community health centres as high-return investment. Community health centres, like the North End clinic, are team-based collaborative care centres that focus on health promotion and prevention, as well as primary care.

The budget gave no mention of nursing conditions or patient-nurse ratios.

“Nova Scotia faces a severe shortage of health care workers. This budget does nothing to recruit and retain more nurses and health workers “said Ian Johnson, Vice-Chair of the Health Network. “And outside of the budget, bill 37 will force our nurses to other provinces. This government is ignoring concerns of patient safety and undermining the rights of health workers.

If passed, Bill 37, will mandate essential services on over 40,000 health workers and remove their right to strike. The Health Network argued that by undermining collective bargaining, the government is removing the ability of nurses to speak out on issues of patient and work place safety.

The budget also contained a provision for costs from the restructuring of District Health Authorities, but these costs were not made public.