Letter to the Editor: Something ‘Very, Very Wrong’ with CB Healthcare

On December 23, amidst all the busyness leading up to Christmas Day, I was privileged to hear an outstanding interview broadcast on the national radio network of the CBC. The program was the public affairs daily The Current and the guest was the president of the Cape Breton Medical Staff Association, Dr. Margaret Fraser. Dr. Fraser (who I do not know and have not met) outlined in graphic detail the shocking reality of the doctor shortage and closed Emergency Room syndrome that now plagues Cape Breton.

With rare historical insight and understanding, she explained to the program host and the national radio audience across the country, the origin of our local infrastructure. How many listeners knew, I wondered, that Sydney Steel was once the largest steel plant in the whole of the British Empire, as Dr. Fraser enlightened us. The sacrifices made by our parents and grandparents working in the coal mines and steel plant to build Canada were equally large and costly.

Dr. Margaret Fraser. (Photo by . (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

Dr. Margaret Fraser. (Photo by . (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

In the present day, the burden on medical caregivers is hardly less than that being suffered by the public, forced to wait up to 12 hours in an emergency room for attention. Some of those turned away — or who give up — return home to die, explained Dr. Fraser.

If our legal system, worked the way it should, we would clearly have a case against both the provincial and federal health authorities for grossly failing to provide the healthcare necessary to safeguard life, as the Canadian constitution clearly requires (see my “Rule of Law Unveiled,” Chronicle Herald, 12 April 2019 ). The response of the tone-deaf provincial health authorities in Halifax has been particularly irresponsible. “Glib” to use Dr. Fraser’s description. Disingenuous and dishonest, bordering on criminal negligence I would suggest. Despite the soothing words offered by Premier Stephen McNeil, the crisis is very real.

Serving two terms on the Provincial Law Reform Commission which always met in Halifax, I experienced first hand the ‘capital city disease’ of disinterest in the rest of the province. Centralization in both education and healthcare decision-making is not only morally wrong (it violates the principle of “Subsidiarity,” the moral primacy of locals being able to make the decisions which affect them) it is proving dangerously ill-informed, with disastrous consequences for all Nova Scotians.

In the New Year 2020, I urge my fellow Cape Bretoners to pull together and rally round leaders like Dr. Margaret Fraser, Dr. Albert Maroun, (founder of Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness), and CBU President David Dingwall. Their moral radar and professional expertise have enabled them to x-ray our present situation on the Island. They and their supporters see clearly the depth and width of the crisis facing Cape Breton communities because of the systematic neglect by the provincial authorities in Halifax of our healthcare and other basic needs. A neglect so serious and so deep, that another great Cape Breton community leader, the late Fr. Greg MacLeod, labeled Halifax’s treatment of Cape Breton nothing less than “genocide.”

To paraphrase young Greta Thunberg, the courageous young Swedish climate activist recently named TIME magazine’s person of the year, the present situation is “very, very wrong.”

Something big has to change, and soon!

Dr. Brian Richard Joseph
North Sydney