COLUMN: Creating opportunities in healthcare at home

Premier Tim Houston. (Communications N.S photo)

The following is Premier Tim Houston’s column for May as submitted to The Laker News and other media.

One of our greatest challenges is making sure there are enough healthcare professionals in all of our communities.

We need healthcare professionals so we can attach more patients to family clinics, reduce ambulance wait times and help our emergency departments, hospitals and long-term care facilities run more efficiently.

The good news is all across the province, Nova Scotians are stepping up to be part of the solution.

Nova Scotians are training to be nurses.

Our government supported new nursing training opportunities at Acadia University, Cape Breton University and Nova Scotia Community College and we’ve invested more in this budget to keep them going.

We are also making the nursing school at Acadia permanent. This fall 42 students are enrolled in the program, but by 2027, that will increase to graduating 63 nurses every year.

Nova Scotians are training to be paramedics.

Paramedics are a critical part of emergency medical care and more Nova Scotians are answering the call. They’re doing so with the help of an $11,500 tuition rebate for paramedics who work here for three years.

We also hired nearly 140 operators to handle routine transfers to support our paramedics so they can be where they’re needed most – responding to emergencies.

We recently started training emergency medical responders who can assess, stabilize and transport patients to hospital. They will partner with paramedics to expand the number of teams responding to emergency calls.

This role is new to Nova Scotia but is working well to reduce ambulance wait times in many other provinces already. Over the next two years 200 will be trained.

Nova Scotians are training to be continuing care assistants (CCAs).

One of the first things our government did was provide free tuition to 2,000 CCAs. Many are already working in facilities across the province and more will be graduating soon.

This year we also introduced a new pilot program to train CCAs faster. A six-month training program with updated curriculum started in April and a second class starts in the fall.

Nova Scotians are training to be doctors.

Our government just provided more funding for a second medical school campus, on track to open in the fall of 2025 at Cape Breton University. It will mean Nova Scotia will graduate 30 more doctors each year, with a focus on practising in rural Nova Scotian communities.

Nova Scotians are training in these areas and so many more.

Pharmacists. Physician assistants. Nurse practitioners. Medical lab technologists.

All training right now, right here in Nova Scotia.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to every Nova Scotian stepping up to be the future of healthcare.

Tim Houston

Premier of Nova Scotia