NS: New superboards will not work, says former health minister

Darrell Cole, The Amherst News
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'I predict there’s going to be chaos in the health field,' Dave Wilson said Wednesday while visiting Parrsboro and Amherst to talk to people about the government’s plan to reduce health administration by cutting the district health authorities.

Former MLA Mat Whyott (left) and NDP health critic Dave Wilson look over news about Health Minister Leo Glavine's tour of Nova Scotia's health authorities.

[AMHERST, NS] – Nova Scotia’s former minister of health is not convinced reducing the number of health boards will be a smooth transition for his successor.

“I predict there’s going to be chaos in the health field,” Dave Wilson said Wednesday while visiting Parrsboro and Amherst to talk to people about the government’s plan to reduce health administration by cutting the district health authorities. “All the resources and energy is going to be put into what does a superboard look like when we need people in health care trying to figure out the many other issues that remain.”

Wilson’s comments come as Health Minister Leo Glavine is set to meet with health officials with the Cumberland Health Authority today.

The former minister said health administration costs in Nova Scotia were among the highest in Canada in 2009 when the NDP assumed power, but was below the national average in 2013. He said that was done without engineering the chaos that’s going to come.

Wilson said there are different needs in different parts of the province and he fears the ability to address specific community concerns will be lost with the creation of new superboards.

“When you have one major superboard someone at the top has to make decisions. They’re going to be able to do it on their own. I fear that’s going to delay addressing concerns in these smaller communities,” he said. “I fear their plan is not going to result in a better health-care system for Nova Scotians or better health-care service.”

He said the new government has yet to explain the specifics of its health plan, how much it’s going to cost and how it’s going to complete the transition in a year.

While Wilson is no longer in government, he plans to hold the new Liberal administration accountable for the changes it’s making in health care. As a former paramedic, Wilson fears Glavine’s plan goes too far too fast and is not going to result in the savings the government thinks it will get by creating two superboards.

Wilson said the severance alone from eliminating numerous CEOs and vice-presidents is going to eat up a lot of the projected savings, while frontline health-care services will not be enhanced by the change.

He also wants to make sure resources aren’t pulled away from the regions to create this new level of bureaucracy centered in Halifax.

“When I was minister I talked to people in other provinces who went to superboards, like in Alberta and New Brunswick. There were no savings. In fact, it cost millions and severely impacted frontline health-care services,” Wilson said. “What the government is proposing is not going to work in Nova Scotia any better than it did in those jurisdictions. We cannot afford to repeat those mistakes.”

Wilson said the previous NDP government had already made a number of changes to reduce spending on health-care administration including sharing more services between the district health authorities and reducing the number of administrators.

Organizations: NDP, Cumberland Health Authority

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Parrsboro, Canada Halifax Alberta New Brunswick

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