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Town of Shelburne, N.S. Health Coalition rallying the public for discussion on health care

['Roseway Hospital.']
Roseway Hospital.

SHELBURNE, N.S. – The Town of Shelburne in cooperation with the Nova Scotia Health Coalition (NSHC) has sent an open letter to rural municipal units, community groups, doctors and health care professionals across the province inviting them to discuss “the growing health care crisis in rural Nova Scotia.”

“The first step in addressing the rural health care crisis is to speak out, to share our experiences and to unite our voices so they cannot be ignored by the powers that be in Halifax,” reads the letter from Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall. “With pressure mounting on the provincial government it is time we unite our efforts and take the discussion public; the rural health care crisis will not be solved in the backrooms of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.”

In an interview, Mayor Mattatall said the intent of the letter is to “get communities around the province who are in the same situation to get together and discuss their concerns.”

“Everybody’s had concerns for a very long time and it just seems to be getting worse and worse and worse,” she said. “We felt this might be helpful to get communities together and discuss how they feel. It appears the concerns are pretty much the same across the province.”

The town is “calling on interested participants from across Nova Scotia to come together for a discussion of the rural health care crisis and what needs to be done to address it, focusing on community based solutions. We welcome local representatives, community groups, medical professional and individuals to join in a discussion planned for the week of Feb. 12 to 16. We are preparing to tailor the location and timing including consideration of teleconferencing and videoconferencing options to support participation from all interested parties,” states the letter.

If people are interested in having the discussion the town “will do whatever we can do to make this meeting happen because we think its that important,” said Mayor Mattatall. “We don’t expect it’s our job to present solutions. We want to encourage the province to come up with a solution for everybody and that is providing access to all the services we’re missing. We want the province to understand their job is not to just say everything’s fine when everything isn’t fine. They need to find a solution that will make it fine.”

Interested participants are being asked to contact Shelburne Town Clerk Julie Ferguson (902-875-2991 ext. 8) or email clerk@toen.shelburne.ns.ca indicating their interest in joining the discussion. The location and timing of the meeting will be determined by feedback.

Mayor Mattatall said the Town is working with the Nova Scotia Health Coalition to develop ideas and processes that will draw attention to the problem.

Formed in 1996, the Nova Scotia Health Coalition (NSHC) is a non-partisan group of local health committees, community groups, organized labour, faith groups, women’s organizations, students, and individuals dedicated to protecting and extending public health care to include services like Pharmacare, dental care, long-term care, mental health care and home care, states their website.

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