In response to a critical report from the province’s auditor general, Nova Scotia’s premier says Michael Pickup should run for office if he wants to comment on policy.
“If he chooses and wants to do public policy there will be 51 ridings for him to run in,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.
On Wednesday Pickup’s performance audits on health care found the government is doing a “poor job” communicating with Nova Scotians about primary care and and family doctor recruitment.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority and the province’s health department accepted all 21 of the auditor general’s recommendations.
Following a Thursday cabinet meeting McNeil told reporters the auditor general’s job is to ensure tax dollars are “spent appropriately” not to comment on public policy.
“He has a job to do to ensure that the finances are being spent appropriately, public policy is actually for the people that are elected across the street,” McNeil said.
In an interview, Pickup told Global News his latest reports fall within his mandate to conduct performance audits. He said the province’s auditor general act sets the expectation that he does these audits as well as financial audits.
“Clearly this is my job,” he said. “To do performance audits and report on them and that’s what I’ve done.”
His website says the office has staff with “expertise in such areas as administration, communications, human resources, and information technology.”
Still McNeil said he was caught off guard by the report.
“I was surprised to hear the auditor general talk about communications,” McNeil said. “The auditor general, my understanding, is not a communicator.”
Asked if he agrees with Pickup’s assessment that his government has done a “poor job” communicating — McNeil said “I think we’ve done an outstanding job of communicating with Nova Scotians about the fact that we have challenges in our health care system.”
“We’ve laid out a plan that Nova Scotians accepted, and gave us the privilege of a second majority,” McNeil said. “I’m looking forward to implementing that plan.”
“Do you think the auditor needed to tell me that we had a shortage of family doctors? …do you think the issue hasn’t been raised by Nova Scotians?” McNeil asked.
Pickup said both the health department and the health authority were briefed on the topics and focus of his performance audits last year and he said there was no “push back.”
McNeil said he hasn’t “really analyzed” the report but he will “look forward” to Pickup’s testimony at the public accounts on Wednesday.