Council notes

MODG seeks answers from health authority

Council moves forward on alternative voting, raises concerns about RBC branches

By Helen Murphy    
June 24 2020

GUYSBOROUGH – At its regular monthly meeting on June 17, District of Guysborough council voted unanimously to invite N.S. Health Authority CEO Dr. Brendan Carr to provide an update to council on several pressing healthcare issues.

CAO Barry Carroll noted that the municipality’s incentive program to help recruit nurses to both Canso and Guysborough hospitals has been a “huge success,” but now doctor recruitment is an urgent challenge for both facilities. The CEO will also be asked to update council on NSHA efforts to address doctor shortages at both Eastern Memorial Hospital and Guysborough Memorial Hospital. Retirements are increasing the urgency of the doctor shortage. Carroll pointed out that in Guysborough, for example, the hospital currently has two doctors when it should have four or five.

Council also wants a briefing on plans for reopening Eastern Memorial Hospital as a 24-hour facility. Councillor Finn Armsworthy, representing District 8 (Canso and Tickle), said there are various rumours circulating in the community about when and how the hospital may increase services following a successful nurse recruitment campaign. Several nurse recruits are still completing the training needed to assume their positions in Canso. 

Council is also inviting Dr. Carr to give an update on NSHA’s planned consultant’s review on healthcare needs in the Canso-Guysborough corridor. While the community is aware of the review, “no one really knows what exactly that consultant will be doing,” said Carroll.

In other council news, council passed first reading of a new alternative voting bylaw. The proposed bylaw calls for no paper ballots at this fall’s municipal election. Registered voters will be able to vote online, by telephone or at a polling station where staff will be on hand to help with a new touchpad system for casting ballots. The bylaw is expected to have second and final reading at the next meeting of council.

The proposed bylaw calls for one polling station in each district. Carroll noted that MODG will communicate the changes with residents through mail, social media and in this newspaper.

There was some discussion about how up-to-date the voters list will be by election day. CAO Carroll said voters can still register at a polling station on election day if necessary.

Warden Vernon Pitts told council that rumours have been circulating about the future of the RBC branch in Guysborough, which has been open only two partial days per week since the state-of-emergency was declared in N.S. Council voted to invite a representative to share the bank’s plans with council.