October 27, 2016 6:43 pm
Updated: October 28, 2016 3:39 pm

Nova Scotia LifeFlight helicopter replacement delayed: Leo Glavine

WATCH ABOVE: Health Minister Leo Glavine says the province will miss a self-imposed deadline to acquire new LifeFlight Helicopters by January. In April Glavine said the province would replace the helicopters within nine months after they were prevented from landing at hospital helipads in Halifax. Legislative reporter Marieke Walsh explains.

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Health Minister Leo Glavine says the province will miss a self-imposed deadline to acquire a new LifeFlight helicopter by January.

In April, Glavine said the province would replace the helicopter within nine months after it was prevented from landing on some hospital helipads.

Six months into that timeline Glavine told reporters Thursday that the government will miss the deadline and isn’t setting a new one.

“We don’t know when at this stage,” he said.


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Following an order from Transport Canada, the LifeFlight helicopter stopped landing on roof-top helipads at hospitals in Halifax and Digby on April 1. Instead, the helicopter started landing at nearby ground-level helipads — adding up to 15 minutes of transport time for critically ill patients.

READ MORE: Documents suggest N.S. health minister misled public on LifeFlight

Glavine is blaming Transport Canada for the delay. He said one of the helicopters under consideration was put under restrictions by Transport Canada in B.C., so he said Nova Scotia is waiting to hear from Transport Canada on which helicopters are allowed to land on all helipads in Nova Scotia.

“The main reason now that we are up against is Transport Canada,” Glavine said. He said once the federal regulator signs off on the helicopter then the government will be “fairly quickly moving the contract forward.”

But Transport Canada is suggesting it doesn’t have a role to play and in an emailed statement pointed to the publicly available Canadian Aviation Regulations.

“It is up to the province or any operator to select an aircraft that complies with the requirements for the intended operation,” Spokesperson Natasha Gauthier said in an emailed statement.

‘Not good enough’: Opposition party

Both opposition parties say the delay in returning LifeFlight to full service is unacceptable.

“This is overall not good enough we’ve had lots of evidence that the government was aware for some time that this was a seriously percolating problem,” NDP Leader Gary Burrill said.

The Progressive Conservatives are accusing Glavine of incompetence in managing the replacement of the LifeFlight helicopters.

“What do we have a minister of health for if when he knows we’re missing an important part of our health care system like that cannot get his act together and get us a helicopter,” Leader Jamie Baillie said.

Snow plows will ensure ground ambulances will work in winter: Glavine

Asked whether winter storms could hamper the ground ambulance, Glavine said snow plows are available to all Emergency Health Services (EHS) ambulances in Nova Scotia.

“You can have a plow in front of the EHS, that’s a standard protocol across the province,” he said.

He said recent meetings with the IWK children’s hospital confirmed that the interim measures put in place are working.

“What we have in place is working fine, is it the ideal? I would say ‘no’ we want to have the best system and to land once again at the the (Halifax) Infirmary and IWK,” he said.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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