COLUMN: Year-end message from Premier Tim Houston

Premier Tim Houston. (Communications N.S photo)

The following was submitted to N.S. media by Premier Tim Houston’s office:

My motto for healthcare – and my message to leaders in the sector – is more, faster.

Do more. Go faster. That’s what Nova Scotians deserve.

We knew fixing healthcare wasn’t going to be easy and that it wouldn’t happen overnight, but that didn’t stop us. People are right to expect their leaders to run towards the big challenges, not away from them.

As the year closes, I’m excited to share some of the progress we’ve made.

People tell me every day that we should hire more doctors and nurses. Unfortunately, a global shortage of healthcare providers and excessive red tape have made that easier said than done. But in the past year, our government has made recruiting much easier.

The Patient Access to Care Act is making it quicker for healthcare providers to practise here. It means less red tape and faster licensing.

Since passing this law in the spring, we’ve had over 19,000 nurses apply to work here!

We also signed new labour agreements with doctors, nurses, paramedics and health administrators, making our province an even more attractive place to work.

And we’re training more. We’ve created new nursing programs, invested in a new medical school in Cape Breton and increased medical residency spaces.

We’ve increased access points – new and growing family clinics, virtual care for everyone, mobile clinics and pharmacy clinics across the province mean Nova Scotians have more ways to get care now than ever before.

Speaking of pharmacy clinics, we’ve increased the scope of practice for pharmacists. Now they can do some tests and prescriptions on-site at your local pharmacy.

And you can get it all in the palm of your hands with our new app – YourHealthNS. It helps Nova Scotians navigate the system, find the closest health services, book appointments and find information easier and faster, no matter where you are in the province.

In August, we launched our new LifeFlight plane. Transporting non-critical patients from Yarmouth or Sydney to Halifax, LifeFlight has saved more than 3,600 hours of ground ambulance time.

Nova Scotia is leading the country in healthcare innovation with groundbreaking technologies that will revolutionize the way we treat cancer. Starting in January, cancer patients in Nova Scotia will experience the first-in-the-world Ethos radiotherapy system with HyperSight imaging, which will decrease the average number of treatments from 20 to five.

We got a lot done in 2023. My message for 2024 is the same. Let’s do more. Let’s go faster. And let’s do it together.

Wishing you all the best in the New Year!

Tim Houston
Premier of Nova Scotia