Scooter Safety

Dr. Jim Smith has it absolutely right in his call for the province to make helmets mandatory for children driving scooters.

This is primarily a matter of making sure our laws keep up with our consumer trends, which lately have seen a rebirth in populatity for scooters.-more-

Every plan needs specifics

Dr. Jim Smith was correct when he predicted the Tory's health report would be "a weak and flaccid failure for the health care system."

The Liberal health critic was right because what Health Minister Jamie Muir and committee chairman David Rippey failed to do was stand behind the basic premise underlying the elusive "clinical footprint." -more-

Charting a course without a compass

There is something fundamentally wrong with the way health care is managed in Nova Scotia. The much anticipated "clinical footprint" was supposed to address the flaws in the system and chart a course for successful management of the whole province's health care woes. But whoever is at the helm is either unable to read the chart or does not believe the navigator.

The footprint has been released to the CEOs of the health authorities along with an estimated budget. But it is no longer referred to as the master plan for health care in the province but rather a guideline for best practices.

As with just about every plan released by the provincial government since being elected, there is probably some very bad news hidden in the clinical footprint. So instead of following the recommendations of their two-year-old study, Captain John Hamm and First Mate Jamie Muir have subtly altered the course which has been plotted for them.

The only question remaining is when the cuts come in the spring will there be another health care mutiny, or will the government make it to a safe harbour in the upcoming storm of discontent.

Or will Hamm once again be forced to pirate money from everyone to chart a course without a compass.

--The Truro Daily News -- February 5, 2001

Unhealthy delay

Where is the Hamm government's health-care blueprint, due last spring? Good question, and the answer is eagerly awaited not only by inquiring Grit health critic Jim Smith but the people who work in hospital administration and nine district health bodies.

Health Minister Jamie Muir says he has seen a draft of the plan and it's near completion. Sure, it's better to be right than on time. However, the months of waiting have spurred rumours of more bed closings and continued confusion on budgetary decisions at the ground level. And that's an unhealthy situation.

--Editiorial, The Daily News -- January 11, 2001

A case of malpractice

In June, retired Liberal leader Russell MacLellan revealed Tory plans to downgrade seven hospitals, including Fishermen's Memorial Hospital. The government denied this plan, saying the Liberals were engaged in scare tactics. As it turned out, the Liberals were right. There were plans to downgrade Fishermen's to a clinic.

The public was outraged, as they had a right to be, over the lack of information and consultation. After a community outcry, the government recanted and found the money to put back into Fishermen's. The issue didn't end there, however. Throughout the summer we were told that more health care cuts were coming. There were no specific details, only speculation that the new District Health Authority, consisting of South Shore Regional, Fishermen's and Queens General, was bracing for cuts of $4.7 million. Just where these cuts were going to be made and how they would impact on the level of health care in this district, was not immediately known, but we were promised that information very soon. In early October we were promised the details within two weeks. We are still waiting.

Here it is the middle of November and we still don't know how these cuts will be implemented or what impact they will have. In four or five months, a new budget will undoubtly bring more cuts. How can anyone deal with future reductions without knowing the current state of affairs?

Someone, somewhere, must know what cuts we're facing here. If so, it's time to share the details. The public has a right to know.

--Vernon Oickle, The Bridgewater Bulletin -- November 15, 2000

Nova Scotians are now seeing John Hamm's priorities.

Tory Promises vs Tory Reality

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Wayne Gaudet, Interim Leader

Chronicle Herald, May 07, 2001

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the sad loss of the four young students from Massachusetts who died in the recent bus crash. This is truly a tragic event, and we appreciate Education Minister Jane Purves’ gesture to send one teacher and one student to the memorial service on behalf of the province.

We are now in week six of the spring session of the Legislature, and already the Tories are anxious to close down the House. They know that if they leave now, they’ll avoid the nasty protests and layoffs that are an inevitable result of the spring budget, as well as some expected and continued labour strife.

We want to make sure the Tories are in the House when school boards and district health authorities have to make tough decisions based on budgetary restraints. We saw the beginning of these cuts when 53 teachers were laid-off at the Cape Breton - Victoria Regional School Board two weeks ago.

We believe that all Nova Scotians could benefit if the Tories were better financial managers. I’ll share a few snapshots of financial issues that we’ve been paying close attention to:

Since tax season just wrapped up last week, I’d like to give you an update on what we’ve proposed to save Nova Scotians money on income taxes. At the moment when a person receives a pay raise in order to keep-up with inflation, they’re pushed into a higher tax bracket and therefore pay more in income tax. This move is called bracket creep, and what it boils down to is an extra $443 per year for a family earning $45,000 and an extra $852 per year for a family earning $80,000. The province can stop this by indexing income tax brackets and income tax credits. Other provinces have done this. The federal government has done this. There’s no reason for the Tory government to continue to hold your money back. We’ve told them this, and we’ll continue to remind them.

That’s why last week we introduced a Bill that creates a group to meet Nova Scotians and seek their input on tax issues. The group will be made up of members of all three parties, chambers of commerce, trade unions and the office of the Auditor General. The Bill is an important step toward much needed tax reform in Nova Scotia.

Two weeks ago in question period our Premier proved that he doesn’t understand the fiscal management policies of his own government. He stood in the legislature and told us he was unaware that the debt of Nova Scotia will grow each and every year until 2007, even with projected surpluses taken into account. This from a premier that has promised to chart a new course for financial responsibility.

The government’s greatest goal - - its trump card - - is to offer Nova Scotians a 10 per cent tax cut in the fourth year of its mandate. But by the time you account for bracket creep, new user fees and the money the Tories didn’t flow through from the last federal tax cut, the Tories will have to sweeten the deal to well beyond a mere 10 per cent to make a tax cut meaningful.

Another issue we’ve been watching is the introduction of hidden user fees. User fees are this government’s way of taxing Nova Scotians without calling them taxes. Since this government came to power it has introduced new user fees to the tune of $61 million. For example, this year the Tories will charge a new fee of $50 a day for seniors in hospitals who are waiting for a long- term care bed. They will also charge non-profit groups $20 to perform background checks on volunteers. Does this sound fair to you? It’s not fair, and it amounts to another cash grab. But what’s also unfair is that while the government is taking money from the pockets of everyday Nova Scotians, they don’t mind lowering fines for tobacco smugglers from $10, 000 to $250. It just doesn’t make sense.

In the coming weeks we will work to keep the government in the Legislature, getting the answers that Nova Scotians want answered.


During the last election Tory leader John Hamm promised to hire new nurses and open hospital beds across Nova Scotia if elected. Listen to John Hamm's Election Promises


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