Province introduces legislation to improve patient access to care

Premier Tim Houston. (Communications N.S. Photo)

HALIFAX: Nova Scotians will be able to get healthcare faster with new legislation introduced on March 21.

The Patient Access to Care Act includes new measures to reduce administrative burdens on healthcare providers, giving them more time to see patients. It also makes it easier for healthcare professionals from other parts of Canada to work in Nova Scotia.

“If we continue to do things the same way, we are going to keep getting the same results,” said Premier Tim Houston. “That is unacceptable for Nova Scotia, and that is unacceptable to me.

“The legislation introduced today includes things that should have been done a long time ago that will help Nova Scotians get the care they need faster.”


The Patient Access to Care Act includes measures to reduce paperwork, allowing healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care and support healthcare recruitment and retention efforts in Nova Scotia. Highlights of the act include:
— licensing or registration criteria will be waived for healthcare providers coming from other parts of Canada, as needed and in accordance with Canadian free trade obligations
— regulators cannot charge healthcare professionals licensed in other parts of Canada an application fee
— applications must be processed within five business days
— supports the creation of regulations that will apply the above provisions to non-Canadian jurisdictions
— allows all regulators to recognize the credentials and licences of healthcare professionals trained outside Canada
— ensures regulated healthcare professionals can work to their full training and allows expanded scope of practice through regulations rather than legislation
— employers will only be able to request a sick note if an employee is absent for more than five days or has already had two absences of five days or less in the previous 12-month period
— allows the government to prescribe Workers Compensation Board forms and documents to improve the process for Nova Scotians and doctors.


“Paperwork shouldn’t stand in the way of helping Nova Scotians get the care they need. When someone is sick, the last thing they should be thinking about is that they need to get a doctor’s note.

“It’s also the last thing a doctor needs to write, when they could be seeing a patient with more urgent care needs.”
     – Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness

“Our healthcare system needs these changes now to attract and retain workers in our province. This new legislation will enable us to bring qualified healthcare professionals here sooner and remove unnecessary administrative paperwork so doctors and other health professionals can focus more on patient care.”
     – Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration


Quick Facts:
— Nova Scotia will cover the initial licensing fees for healthcare professionals who already hold licence to practise in another part of Canada; this fee may be prorated
— licensing fees for Nova Scotia healthcare professionals range from $1,000 to $2,000, and application fees can be up to $200 annually
— doctors completed more than 26,000 report forms for worker’s compensation last year

Additional Resources:
Bills tabled in the legislature are available at: