Council notes

MODG pushes for tax incentive to attract health professionals

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – As Canso’s Eastern Memorial Hospital nears the seven-week mark of nighttime closure, MODG is bringing its argument for a tax credit for rural healthcare professionals to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. At its June 19 monthly meeting, council voted unanimously to ask the FCM to lobby the federal government to implement a tax credit, similar to the Northern Residents Deduction, for medical personnel working in the healthcare field in rural community hospitals and long-term care facilities. The proposal aims to help municipalities with a population of 5,000 or less by creating an incentive to attract medical professionals.

The motion noted that “emergency room closures are becoming frequent events within our healthcare system due to physician and/or nurse shortages, particularly in rural areas with Nova Scotia seeing an increase in closures from 2016 to 2018 of 157 per cent.” It also pointed to the shortage of long-term care beds for seniors, lack of mental health services and long waits for help, and staff being stretched too thin, overworked, not able to take breaks or book time off — leading to increased risk to patients.

Council is calling for the recruitment and retention of medical personnel to become a national priority, with over 50,000 people in Nova Scotia and 4.5 million people across Canada without a family doctor.

After the meeting, Warden Vernon Pitts spoke about the Canso area mobilizing to help find solutions.

“The community is going to solve this in conjunction with the Dept. of Health,” he said, adding that a long-term solution is needed.

“We need more than a Band-aid solution,” he said. “This has to be sustainable going forward.”

In other business, council agreed to write a letter of support for the Allan J. MacEachern Regional Airport in Port Hawkesbury to provincial and federal governments. An $18 million proposal for a new airport in Inverness to serve the Cabot Links golf resort is presently before the federal government. The Town of Port Hawkesbury and other municipal units have expressed concern over the potential harm a new airport could bring to the Port Hawkesbury airport.

Council members were informed of a letter received from the family of Dr. Anita Foley, thanking MODG for its support following the recent passing of the well-known, highly respected and appreciated Guysborough physician.

Council approved a motion for two representatives to travel to an upcoming aquaculture conference in Norway as part of a N.S. delegation that includes the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. With funding assistance from event partners, MODG’s cost is only $750 each for Warden Vernon Pitts and Director of Economic Development Gordon MacDonald to take part.

It was noted that the opportunity is well timed, given Cemaq’s interest in establishing an aquaculture operation along the Chedabucto Bay. Cemaq is a fish farming company operating in Norway, Canada and Chile. The company recently leased office space in the Chedabucto Mall in Guysborough.