COLUMN: More ways to access healthcare

Premier Tim Houston. (Communications N.S photo)

The following is the column submitted to The Laker News and other media by Premier Tim Houston.

Nova Scotians deserve access to healthcare when and where they need it. Now there are more ways to access care than ever before.

You can get care at your local pharmacy. Through the work of our government to expand their scope of practice, our pharmacists can now diagnose, treat and prescribe for a wide range of common illnesses, like strep throat, that would have otherwise required a doctor’s office or emergency department visit.

There are now 25 pharmacy clinics offering appointments for patients with common illnesses and those who take medications for chronic diseases. There are also several pharmacy walk-in clinics and ALL pharmacies can renew some prescriptions.

More than 130,000 Nova Scotians have accessed care this way and the feedback they are providing has been very positive. Often, they can get diagnosed faster, closer to home.

You can also get care virtually, with the assurance that if you need more care, you’ll be seen in person.

That’s right. Virtual care is available for free to all Nova Scotians through the YourHealthNS app. Virtual care is working for many Nova Scotians, but there are times when we all need to be seen in person or to have our care monitored over time.

There is a solution for that. If you need more than virtual care, you can be referred to a primary care clinic.

These clinics provide in-person appointments for anyone on the Need a Family Practice Registry who goes through virtual care, but needs more. These clinics can follow your care for as long as you need or refer you to the appropriate specialist.

And you can get care through a mobile clinic. We worked with Dr. John Ross to create clinics that travel the province delivering care. More than 20,000 Nova Scotians have chosen to get primary care this way.

You can find out when they’ll be in your area by visiting or calling 811.

Or you can go to an urgent treatment centre. There are now seven across the province that offer care for those who don’t have a life-threatening emergency, but require urgent treatment, like strains and sprains, earaches, mild respiratory issues or small lacerations.

In 2021 when we came into government, there were no expanded primary care clinics, no open urgent treatment centres, no mobile primary care clinics, no community pharmacy primary care clinics or pharmacy clinics.

They didn’t exist.

But in just three years we’ve put all this in place and so much more. All new access points. All to get you the care you need.

And we’ll keep going. There is so much more to come.

Tim Houston
Premier of Nova Scotia