Premier Tim Houston. (Communications N.S photo)

The following is the monthly column submitted by Premier Tim Houston to media.

Nova Scotians want and deserve to get the care they need, faster. We need to use every tool at our disposal to create solutions to make that happen.

That’s why we were pleased to recently pass the Patient Access to Care Act, a significant law that will improve access to healthcare in our province.

We know we need to recruit doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers. Nova Scotia is the best place in the world to live, but there is a national shortage and we’re competing with other provinces and beyond.

This law makes it quicker and easier for healthcare providers to come here from other parts of Canada. It requires their applications be processed within five business days and removes application fees. It also makes it easier for healthcare professionals licensed outside of Canada to come here.

We also need our healthcare professionals working to their full scope of practice. This law will allow them to use all of their skills to benefit their patients. For example, we’ve had great success working with pharmacists to expand their scope. They can now assess and prescribe for some illnesses, like strep throat.

We all want healthcare providers to spend their time caring for Nova Scotians, not filling out unnecessary paperwork.

With the new Act, employers can no longer ask for doctor’s notes, except in specific situations. This has been a waste of valuable time for our doctors, time they can’t afford to waste. This one change could free up to 50,000 hours of physician time. That’s like getting another 25 doctors for Nova Scotians!

The Patient Access to Care Act means more healthcare providers coming to Nova Scotia, working to their full scope and spending more time with patients. It allows us to quickly adapt to changing needs of Nova Scotians.

Safety is our priority in any changes we make. We will ensure the act protects Nova Scotians while moving the system forward, faster. We would never lower the high standard of care in this province.

But we cannot continue to do things the way we used to and expect different results. This law makes changes that should have happened a long time ago.

We said we would fix healthcare. That is exactly what we are doing, one solution at a time.

Tim Houston
Premier of Nova Scotia