Skabar gets support from veteran Amherst doctor

Darrell Cole
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Ferguson fears a return to the 1990s

Liberal candiate accuses NDP counterpart of scare tactics

Cumberland North NDP candidate Brian Skabar.

AMHERST – Dr. Brian Ferguson is afraid of a return to the “dark days” of 1990s.

The longtime Amherst physician announced Wednesday he is supporting Cumberland North NDP candidate Brian Skabar because he fears what a Liberal or PC government could do to health care in the province.

“The John Savage days of the 1990s were some of the darkest when it came to health care in Cumberland County,” Ferguson said. “We just can’t go back to those days.”

The Liberal platform is calling for a reduction in the amount of health boards to two, while the Conservatives are suggesting three. Ferguson said the Liberals brought in regional health boards after the 1993 provincial election and the result was disastrous for Cumberland County, which lost its decision-making power to a regional board it shared with Colchester-East Hants and Pictou County.

“I worked and lived as a doctor in Cumberland County during the health reforms of the 1990s, when local health boards were centralized and it wasn’t good. Dr. (John) Hamm stabilized it with the current DHA structure and the NDP government has worked effectively with physicians and communities to improve health care,” said Dr. Ferguson.

Alberta’s Health Quality Council published a damming report concluding that “massive restructuring of the health system has contributed to the problems” being experienced by physicians and patients.

“As a physician, it concerns me to see the reports coming out of Alberta on the impact their restructuring has had on patients and the physicians who advocate for them. We should avoid these needless restructuring moves – they just cause chaos,” said Dr. Ferguson. “For the first time in my life I’m not voting Liberal or Conservative. I’m voting NDP to protect health care in Nova Scotia.”

Cumberland North NDP candidate Brain Skabar says doctors and health professionals are joining other community leaders in the area to sound the alarm about the Liberal scheme to abolish local health boards and create a centralized health super bureaucracy in Halifax.

Skabar agreed with Dr. Ferguson, saying Nova Scotia’s experience with health super bureaucracy in the 1990s under the last Liberal government was a failure.

“The Liberals in the 1990s centralized health care decisions and it was a complete disaster. It resulted in 1,600 closed hospital beds and forced 1,000 nurses out of nursing,” said Skabar. “Stephen McNeil has said he will do the same thing, just like the Liberals did in 1999, which shows that they’ve learned nothing from their own past,” said Skabar.

“The choice for voters is clear: go back to the failed Liberal health policies of the past that resulted in cuts, closures and job losses or move forward with the NDP’s practical solutions like CECs to keep ERs open, nurse-managed clinics and a focus on patient care.”

Cumberland North Liberal candidate Terry Farrell said many residents don’t believe the NDP have improved health-care services. He accused his NDP counterpart of using scare tactics, adding they are a sign of desperation on the part of candidate and the party.

“Residents continue to experience lengthy wait times and closures of emergency rooms and are treated in hospital hallways because of overcrowded conditions,” Farrell said. “They are the same residents who are still waiting for the promised doctors in their communities to provide full emergency room coverage. Surely we can all agree thatthere is an urgent need for more frontline professionals like doctors and nurses to provide some much needed relief in the emergency room.”

Farrell said Skabar is misleading people by saying a Liberal government would abolish local boards. He said the Liberals will eliminate a system that’s top heavy in administration, adding there is one highly-paid CEO for every 100,000 Nova Scotians and a vice-president for every 14,400. He said eliminating these positions will free up money for frontline care.

“Local input into decision making will be maintained and enhanced by strengthening the existing community health boards.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Cumberland North NDP, Conservatives, Health Quality Council

Geographic location: Amherst, Cumberland County, Pictou County Alberta Nova Scotia Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Al
    October 04, 2013 - 22:48

    I hate to tell you this but today I voted and canceled out Dr. Brian Ferguson vote.

  • Robert Bird
    October 04, 2013 - 18:46

    Spin it anyway you want, our 10 CEO's are paid well... Janet Knox - Valley, $238,190 Dianne Calvert - CB, $199,880 Christine Power - Capital, $312,862 Peter MacKinnion - Colchester East Hants, $225,470 Bruce Quigley - Cumberland, $247,314 Elizabeth Millett - Antigonish, $184,519 Anne McGuire - IWK, $272,271 Patrick Lee - Pictou, $224,528 Dr. Peter Vaughn - South Shore, $222,800 Blaise MacNeil - South West, $237,935

    • lot of numbers
      October 07, 2013 - 05:52

      That would be about 52 nurses...would much rather have nurses than ceo's

  • jen
    October 04, 2013 - 17:20

    As a community nurse in this area, I feel that seniors living in this province now have more sevices and support available to them than ever before. Yes, there are still a number of seniors waiting for long term care beds in our hospitals but the NDP has opened more long term care beds and has increased more funding to homecare sevices than any past government. I strongly feel that the NDP party is on the right path!

  • Hospital worker
    October 04, 2013 - 16:00

    Dr Ferguson can say what ever he likes,but just ask the workers what the NDP has done so far.Not that long ago they fired a private Consulting Firm which costed the taxpayers $$$$ only to stop short of starting the recommendations which was to take away the laundry from Springhill and send it to Halifax and start cutting office staff .So don't think the NDP are that grate.

  • macpass
    October 04, 2013 - 14:53

    The jobs that will be cut in this area from the Fat Health Board are the $100,000 plus administrator jobs that play golf with Dr. Ferguson not the local staff downtown. I agree with Robert that something drastic must be down and the current system of health care cannot be maintained anymore the way it is now. The NDP plan of doing nothing has helped no one here or across the province so whether we like it or not changes will have to be made in Health Care. Do the people in this area really think that the NDP if re-elected will keep health care the same and not look at the same thing the Liberals and Conservatives are looking at now? Remember the NDP always keep their promises don't they. Electing the NDP in this area will not save the local Health Board as the rest of the province is going to vote liberal so what happens here in this election will do nothing to stop that move if it has to be made. Re-electing Skabar again here and having a Liberal government in Halifax will only due one person any good... Brian Skabar as he will get his fat pension from you the good taxpayers of Nova Scotia and then be able to Double Dip with his Federal Pension as well while most folks that live in Cumberland County will be visiting the food bank, the unemployment line or if you are real lucky you will get to spend weeks in a hall bed at our local hospital because of the massive debt that his party the NDP have created.

  • MediaBoy
    October 03, 2013 - 18:13

    When a veteran family physician like Dr. Brian Ferguson sounds the alarm on the Liberal and Conservative health care platforms, voters in Cumberland County and across Nova Scotia would be well advised to take his warning to heart. The NDP government has made many strides in providing health care in rural Nova Scotia with its collaborative emergency centres.

  • Rob
    October 03, 2013 - 15:14

    I think it's telling that while Terry went shopping with a New Brunswick MP, Brian was talking to local doctors and community leaders.

  • Robert
    October 03, 2013 - 10:58

    Guys... something needs to be cut. Why? The NDP added almost 2 billion dollars to our debt... and already raised taxes on top of it, so our only real option to get the debt back under control (without raising taxes yet again), is something needs to be cut. Do I like the idea? Nope... not even a little bit, but thanks to the NDP's mismanagement of the economy, we're saddled with all this added debt and no real way to pay for it without something else suffering. Health care is going to suffer. Education is going to suffer. Other social programs are going to suffer. Thanks to the NDP... we're in for a bunch of dark years ahead and no amount of hopeful thinking is going to bring us some relief. Expect cuts in the near future... lots of them... no matter who get's in.

  • noodle
    October 03, 2013 - 09:03

    If the NDP government gets back in you won't have to worry about health care reform or anything else for that matter because the entire economy will have collapsed under their rampant overspending. It's all well and good for someone who doesn't have to struggle to keep a roof over their head and electricity on in the house to suggest the NDP is the best bet, but for the rest of us having the NDP back would be even more disastrous than it already has been.

  • MediaBoy
    October 03, 2013 - 07:50

    Congratulations to Dr. Ferguson for standing up and telling it like it is concerning the plans by the Liberals and Conservatives to centralize health care in Nova Scotia as a way to cut costs. There's no more credible physician in Cumberland County, and possibly the province, than Dr. Ferguson, so urging of the public to support local NDP candidate Brian Skabar and the government's health care plan carries great weight with most people. Don't turn back the clock on health care.