Liberal MLA deletes, apologizes for Facebook post that links health care cost to Nova Scotians’ ‘lifestyle choices’
A Liberal MLA has apologized over a Facebook post that quickly drew criticism after it conflated the cost of health care with Nova Scotians’ “lifestyle choices.”
Hugh MacKay, MLA for Chester-St. Margaret’s, wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday that smoking, poor diet and inactivity have led to Nova Scotians being plagued by a number of chronic diseases — such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
“The treatment costs for these oft-preventable diseases is immense and is a source of great frustration for our health care professionals and for your government,” MacKay wrote.
“Before questioning why there is not more money for education, roads, and community services, think about the immense wasted costs in treating the results of our lifestyle choices.”
MacKay concluded by writing that although his words were tough, he was elected to “tell it like it is.”
By Monday morning the post had been deleted.
MacKay was not available for a comment on Monday as he was in “business meetings” all day.
However, he issued an apology on Facebook instead.
“I would like to sincerely apologize for my post on healthcare yesterday,” MacKay wrote.
“I failed to properly address the social determinants of health.”
Questions about what prompted the decision to remove the post have gone unanswered by the office of Premier Stephen McNeil.
The Nova Scotia NDP criticized MacKay’s remarks in a press release on Monday.
“This is shameful behaviour from someone who was elected to represent the people of this province,” said NDP Health Spokesperson Tammy Martin.
“The Liberals continue to ignore the health care crisis in Nova Scotia and blame others for a situation they have helped create.”
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It’s not the first time a Liberal MLA has openly conflated health care and lifestyle choices.
In 2014, the then-health minister, Leo Glavine, wrote an editorial in the Kings County Advertiser that expressed similar views.
“As minister of health, it is my job to improve the health of all citizens. To do this, we need a population that looks after its own health,” Glavine wrote.
“Healthier citizens would mean more money and time available for those who require immediate medical intervention.”
The premier’s office has not responded to questions about the editorial.
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