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.