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Halifax residents rally against Nova Scotia’s health care ‘crisis’

WATCH ABOVE: The rally is being organized by Nova Scotia Health Care Crisis calling for the government to make changes to the health care system. Alicia Draus reports.

More than 50 people marched to Province House in downtown Halifax demanding action and change amid what many are calling a health care crisis.

“It’s kind of like, if you saw someone on the side of the road that was hurt, you’d run over and help them,” said Leslie Tilley, the march organizer and founder of the Nova Scotia Health Care in Crisis group.

She was prompted to organize the march after seeing so many news articles about the health care crisis.

“I’m just tired of hearing we have challenges in our in our health care. No, it’s a crisis.”

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The march began at the old library in Halifax in the morning, then protesters walked to Province House “to make a huge statement that we deserve better — our tax dollars are being well spent on something we are not getting,” said Tilley.

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A handful of professionals spoke at the march. One was Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan, who has been a practising physician for 28 years.

“It’s very difficult because I see the crisis firsthand and secondhand, so it’s patients coming to our window begging for me to take them on and I’m already at capacity,” said Jayabarathan.

Founder Leslie Tilley making a speech at the Spring Garden Road Memorial Library.
Founder Leslie Tilley making a speech at the Spring Garden Road Memorial Library. Alicia Draus/Global News

She says the health care crisis was preventable, and that’s what has been frustrating for her.

“Ten years ago we already knew 1,100 doctors are going to retire. Ten years ago we knew that 945,000 people that are the population of Nova Scotia would be 10 years older and would need health care services to the equivalent of 1.1 million,” said Jayabarathan.

“We knew ten years ago that there was a shortage of family doctors and yet the plan that the health authority and government has put into place, and with all due respect, has not worked.”

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John Stickney, one of the protesters, says the biggest concern right now is that people need more family doctors.

“We need to keep pressuring the government to do something about it and help,” Stickney said as he held a poster featuring pictures of him with his father.

He said he came out to the march to honour his father’s memory.

“My father was a retired legal aid lawyer who believed in helping people,” Stickney said. “When he got sick after a stroke, he developed dementia, and the health care system failed him and he died a horrible death of an improperly inserted catheter.”

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Despite the health care crisis, Stickney said there are good doctors and nurses who are simply overworked.

Stickney was one of the many protesters who shared their stories about their experience with the health care system in its current state.

“I’ll never stop fighting for my father.”

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So far the Nova Scotia Health Care in Crisis group on Facebook has about 5,000 members.

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Tilley, the group’s founder, says there will be more rallies in the future.

“I found the most success is to put the pressure on and never let up. Never, ever let up,” she said.