Leo Glavine - From Province House to home: Doing my share for healthcare

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Government workers represent the needs of the majority of people. It is our job to manage your money wisely and to spend it as you have mandated us to do. We must strive to give you everything you want with diminishing funds. However, there are two crucial aspects of Nova Scotia’s survival, which government cannot give you: an acceptance to learn and a healthy lifestyle.  A healthy, wealthy society depends on health and education levels. Years and hundreds of programs have tried to help people understand their part in the healthcare equation and everyone needs to put these teachings into practice.

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. Healthier citizens would mean more money and time available for those who require immediate medical intervention. Everyone deserves medical help. Sometimes, though, help comes in the form of a dietician telling us what to eat or in a nurse prescribing daily exercise.   

This reminds me of a story: during a yearly flood, caused by decreasing accommodation for natural water flow, rising waters forced a man to seek refuge on his second-floor balcony. Neighbours canoed to his rescue, but he declined their help, saying, “Thank you, but I’m praying to God to lower the water.” Soon afterward, he had to climb onto his roof. Emergency Measures personnel arrived by raft to take him to safety. He preferred to stay, saying “No thank you. I’m praying to God to stop the rising waters.” The water continued to rise. The man climbed to the top of his chimney. A Search and Rescue helicopter went to save him, but again, he refused. “No. God will save me,” he said. Well, he drowned. When he met God, he asked, “Why didn’t you save me?” God answered, “I tried to. I sent you a canoe, a raft and a helicopter.”

People need to recognize when help is being offered, be it in the form of nutritional and exercise regimes or doctors’ advice. Abuse of the body is like abuse of the environment. They both lead to disaster. They both require effort to maintain.

Every government has recognized the need to improve Nova Scotia’s healthcare system to improve the health of our citizens. Healthcare is the largest expenditure in Nova Scotia. Some drastic measures have been undertaken and are seeing continued and positive results, such as the dismantling of one of the largest burdens on our system: smoking. Do we need to take further drastic measures? Some have suggested looking at the banking model. Canadian banking systems are highly regulated to help thwart abuses. Clients must be approved before receiving financial assistance. They must prove that they practice a healthy financial lifestyle before being able to borrow money. These regulations have helped Canada through difficult economic times.

Imagine if healthcare worked like banks. Patients would have to prove they practice a healthy lifestyle before receiving assistance. They would have to prove that they practice the basic tenets of proper eating and exercise. Such a system would save money for those who have not abused their health and need medical care. 

But, copying this approach would be archaic and inhumane, and it is not for me to judge those who are dependent on the system. The root causes of their needs are generations deep. It is for me, however, to help people understand the importance of individual health for a healthy system. These people need help to break unhealthy habits, because the consequences of smoking, uncontrolled eating and avoidance of physical activity deplete funds that could otherwise go toward saving lives and finding cures. Then there are people who are cognizant abusers of the system. They accept government assistance, yet still have money to travel.  These people are abusing their neighbours’ hard-earned money. The goal of assistance programs is to help people out of a difficult time, not give people free money.  

Proactive healthcare is the best way to restore long-term wealth to our province. Individual responsibility for basic health is crucial. It is very encouraging to see so many active constituents and local grocers and retailers who are providing for healthy eating choices. 

Organizations: Province House

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Canada

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  • Rob Trites
    March 31, 2014 - 20:25

    Hon. Leo Glavine. I am a student at the University of New Brunswick in my third year of a Bachelor of Sports and Recreation Studies (Business minor) degree, and I am from the Annapolis Valley N.S. I share the passion for putting the responsibility back into the hands of the people. There is some knowledge to be gained from the social determinants of health, but they are purely DESCRIPTIVE. The determinants do nothing to fix the issues at hand. They are an excuse, though valid in some cases are exploited in others. Education programs need to be upgraded to teach people how to take care of themselves in todays commercial, corporate driven world. This is where the government needs to put the emphasis, on education and prevention rather then the reactive approach we have taken for years. The resources simply do not exist to continue the model we currently operate within. Lack of education is a vicious cycle, kids who grow up with out education are more then likely going to have children that grow up with the same lack of crucial knowledge. If the people who are negatively affected by the social determinants of health, are not even aware of them, how are they expected to break the cycle? It is foolish to expect people to stop abusing a system that allows them to do so with great ease. Health care needs to be repositioned as a last resort. By putting resources into educating people how to be healthy and that being healthy is not as expensive as it is portrayed, the cycle can be slowed and eventually stopped. Look at the statistics of well educated, healthy countries like Japan. They have the highest life expectancy in the world and have a thriving economy (3rd biggest in the world). One of the most poorly educated countries in the world is the United States of America, coincidentally they are also one of the fattest and most unhealthy. This trend is consistent throughout every developed country in the world. The more people are educated the more healthy they will be.

  • Terry
    March 04, 2014 - 15:36

    Mr. Glavine states the truth and nothing but the truth! Unfortunately, not everyone likes, or wants, to hear the truth! Kudos to you, Mr. Glavine, for telling it like it is!

  • Lucas Crawford
    March 01, 2014 - 23:20

    Wow, when even most anonymous internet commenters agree that the Minister of Health is very poorly informed (indeed, we can see here that most members of the public are better informed than he) it's an interesting state of affairs indeed. I'm a former high school student of Leo's and am so happy to be providing a very different perspective on exactly these issues this week, in Vancouver media. Listen to a CKNW radio interview about Simon Fraser University's event series, Fat Matters, at the following link: https://soundcloud.com/cknwnewstalk980/twtw-sat-mar-1-hour-2

  • Janice Spencer
    February 26, 2014 - 13:39

    Hon. Leo Glavine Minister of Health : Regarding your engaging letter on the topic of a Healthy Lifestyle; .Surely you did not intend to minimize, even ignore, the social determinants of health? As a person in your position I would assume an intimate knowlwdge of these is warrented as a prerequisite? It has been my experience working with those in poverty, that they endure a substandard of living that puts health and safety on the line daily and chronically, leading to many consequences including illness and even death. Research backs this up at every turn. Moreover, many people actually in need, desperate need in fact, can't access the system that is intended to help them. Perhaps instead of focussing on the few that may be manipulating a inadequate system to meet their basic needs, the focus could be to make the changes that would allow those the system was intended to protect to actually be able to access it and have their needs met by it. There are many barriers to wellness, let's not let the people charged with ensuring the common welfare of society be another one of those hurdles.

  • Richard J. Hebb
    February 26, 2014 - 07:26

    Hon. Leo Glavine Minister of Health Dear Hon. Sir: Regarding your engaging letter on the topic of a Healthy Lifestyle. I agree the citizens of Nova Scotia have to take responsibility for their own health. This does not mean government does not have a role in curbing the Food addiction of sugars, salts and other harmful additives in our food. I respectfully suggest there are a number of steps government can take that will not bankrupt the government but will in fact lower health costs as you suggested and as a bonus make our society a healthier one. Treat unhealthy food like cigarettes, put warnings on the packages “this product is contains high content of sugar, salt” and may lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and premature death.” Due to the fact that healthy food is more expensive. Tax foods that contain high degrees of sugars, salts and other harmful ingredients and match dollar for tax dollar the funds collected to go back into supporting locally grown healthy foods here in Nova Scotia. This could be dovetailed with the 50 Mile Diet. Yours respectfully, Richard J. Hebb South Shore, N.S.

  • Da Costa
    February 25, 2014 - 22:22

    Dave Wilson is spot on. It's settled science that income and education are the biggest determinants of health. If he, sincerely, wants Nova Scotians to be healthy, he should encourage his gov't to make investments in those areas. If there are folks abusing the system, root them out, but suggesting health care be like banks is pretty rich. Esp considering how the affluent bilked the system and then expected all of us to bail them out...and yes, Canada did bail out it's banks. The Canadian Banker Assc convinced their crony Harper to have the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. take $69 BILLION worth of questionable mortgages off of their books. Worried about abuse? Start there.

  • MSyms
    February 25, 2014 - 22:11

    I'll do what the Minister of Health recommends is my share for healthcare with regard to nutrition and exercise if he does what I recommend is his share for healthcare and RESIGN. I will not waste my time on an elected official who turns on the very people who voted for him and assumes such an uninformed and arrogant position. Mr. Glavine, save your commentary until you have walked in the shoes of those whom you are so quick to judge. Your poor judgement and lack of leadership reflects upon the entire Liberal government. You cannot apologize enough for the harm you have done. Shame on you!

  • Robyn Forward
    February 25, 2014 - 21:19

    The narrow view of health is very worrisome for any politician, but most alarmingly for our Minister of Health and Wellness. Social determinants of health and health psychology are far from an unexplored territory.

  • d. mont.
    February 25, 2014 - 18:51

    I tend to agree that there are an over abundance of abusers of our social assistance programs, though "travelling abuse" would not be in my top ten list of abuses from the health services point of view, I see every month countless known and recognized long term users of social assistance heading to the post office, pick up their cheques, next stop liquor store and smoke shop, then- oddly enough- have no problem with standing in line at the food bank holding their bag of smokes and booze complaining of the injustices thrust upon them.... complex issue? don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer of having a social assistance net for those of us who fall, however the system is broken, the optics and oversight are very bad. I don't believe social services and charity of others should be given so freely without some mandatory counseling and conditions. the system should be one that promotes the user to get off the system and become a contributing proud member of society. centralized, efficient dormitory type residency with classroom and offices for assisting those in need off assistance- not state sponsored luxury housing with no controls on frivolous spending and potential waste of heating energy... have we lost our sense of community and personal pride? I see over and over users with no negative stigma being on social assistance and proudly embracing "the free ride" very sad, very worried for our future with so many in our society (both on and off social assistance) with what I see as a culture of entitlement. We all have to take more responsibility for our actions and our living situations. we all must stop expecting "someone else" to fix-change-do....

  • Sarah Mullen
    February 25, 2014 - 17:38

    Mr. Glavine, as minister of health it greatly saddens me that you have a serious lack of insight and knowledge in the area of health and health behaviors. I implore you to do some reading around the Ottawa Charter and the determinants of health and scores of health research that indicates that an individual responsibility approach to improving health does not work.

  • Ray Yeates
    February 25, 2014 - 15:54

    I am a former smoker of 1-2 packs per day for near 40 years. I am also diagnosed with Advanced Emphysema. I also have a spot that has grown since Jan 2013 on one of my lungs. In simple language, my lungs are full of holes and my breathing even just to walk up 1 flight of stairs finds be laboring for the next breath. Even with these facts glaring at me I could not quit smoking when the news was presented to me. That was in June 2013. I simply wrote it off and thought ..."it's my own fault". I almost just resigned myself to the inevitable. That was until I came across the Barb Tarbox documentary on Youtube. Barb's story and her crusade of going out and speaking to children intrigued me. Her method of delivering the message to those children was totally honest and powerful. If I was at the same age as those kids I know I would not have ever picked up a cigarette after hearing and watching Barb. That being said there is one thing she did say that caused me to stop in my tracks. She said she could not quit. She said she knew what she was doing was going to cause her death. She took full responsibility. She was also describing me. She left out the guilt she felt for the most part. She never once asked anyone to feel sorry for her. She also said, and I will quote her " if you smoke, please quit".....if you know somebody...somebody that smokes....can you help them quit? Offer them support.....without criticism.....because you know what.... it works." On a personal note please know that within my family and friends lives , I am ashamed also. That won't change anything however. What did change is that I no longer smoke as of September 30th 2013. I opened my mind. I bought an electronic cigarette after realizing all the other methods I had tried failed me. I researched like I have never researched before. I need to know what was in them. Like the patch and the vaporizer they contained nicotine, if I choose so. I have managed to reduce my nicotine intake since first starting and will never go backwards now. The device is truly ingenious and far less harmful. I am just one in my condition that can claim as a voluntary " guinea pig " so to say this is a far better alternative to what opportunity Barb had. In closing I have a statement and two questions. My first question is to reverberate Barb....."do you know someone who smokes......will you help them to quit?" My second question is........"are each and every one of you who are so adamant to ban this simple yet effective device that right now millions are using to stop smoking, are you going to take full responsibility to the millions of smokers who need that help which Barb asked of us? Are you? Thank you for opening your mind and doing the real research based on scientific facts for harm reduction for smokers.

  • Lucas Crawford
    February 25, 2014 - 14:38

    Hi Leo: Former WKDHS student and Kings Country resident here, saying that this is valiant attempt to discuss complex issues -- but it ultimately falls quite short. As health minister, I would hope that you research and read widely on recent and leading thinkers in the field known as social determinants of health. The views you express here are ones that were determined decades ago to not to lead to progress. Until we take a multi-angled approach to health that includes the dignity of all involved, that eschews personal blame, that does not blame individual behaviours for systemic issues and underfunding, and that does not consider issues of inequality as working in tandem, then we're not getting very far. There are people in NS and beyond who are doing very good work and I encourage to speak more widely with your constituents, including those that are experts, before taking such a strong stance. To someone involved in this research, and to a citizen, it comes across as very poorly researched, behind the times, and even morally superior. I wish you luck with looking at these issues from as wide a perspective as possible.

  • JMutch
    February 25, 2014 - 10:49

    Kudos sir, I was talking to an acquaintance the other day who was telling me about the fact that he lived in public housing on the one hand and his bi yearly trip to Disney on the other. He was overweight and diabetic. I have lived in areas with large numbers of single moms on assistance that had programs for educating women.I remember going to these seminars at the public library, which was in walking distance, where children were all welcome on how to feed your children healthy food on a budget, no one goes. It is a choice, often, to be a victim. They offered babysitting for free to go on a job interview. There were so many programs that no one used. The government is trying to help people who don't want it or take it when it is offered, they only want handouts. So while I am working my butt off to make ends meet and save for retirement and make sure I have a safety net in case of unemployment, my taxes are going to help some folks who need it and others who want cheap housing so they can take their kids to Disney every second year.

  • Shara
    February 25, 2014 - 10:16

    I challenge you to subsist on typical unemployment pay for the months, and while in HRM to reside in a public housing unit (sunset manor is my first suggestion) and try and afford milk that costs double what soda does, fresh foods that cost triple what fast or frozen do. Despite your high moral horse, I highly doubt few critics would be willing to compromise their comfortable lives to walk in salvation army shoes.

  • Albert McNutt
    February 25, 2014 - 09:40

    Leo Glavine – From Province House to home: Doing my share for healthcare While I agree it might be your job as a member of the Provincial Government to manage our money wisely and spend it as we have mandated you to do, however I find your comments somewhat harsh when you speak of issues such as a healthy, wealthy society depends on health and education levels. It also seems quite clear that you feel that hundreds of programs have tried and it appears that you feel they have been unsuccessful in helping people understand their part in the healthcare equation and that everyone needs to put these teachings into practice. You also mention that as Minister of Health, it is your job to improve the health of all citizens…I disagree…I would think your job is to look at policies and address challenges and disparities in the health care system that would impact the health and well-being of all Nova Scotians, no matter what their life brings them. As a person living with HIV and have been living with this virus since 1987, I was told that having HIV/AIDS was God’s punishment on me because I was a gay man…so please keep any reference to God out of the equation, whether it be the government purse, healthcare or individual life choices. Possibly you need to stop blaming the victim and start addressing the Determinants of Health. People don’t wake up in the morning and decide they do not want to work, they do not wake up with a notion to get hooked on prescription drugs, they just do not change their life from one that may have been very productive and then decide they need to access social assistance. Only too often these things just happen. Who would knowingly and deliberately access assistance and try to survive on the amount provided by the government. Possibly you should try living on approximately $535.00 a month assistance for living space and also try to provide yourself with healthy eating choices while accessing the local Food Bank. How would you expect individuals to prove they practice a healthy lifestyle, eat nutritious food and exercise before they could be able receive assistance. Might I suggest that you examine the overarching areas outlined in the Determinants of Health. Some of us do not have the luxury of having the type of education and skill you may have to go into politics and be the recipient of approximately $84,000.00 or more a year salary, which by the way is the lowest paid MLA the last time I checked. Most everyday Nova Scotians do not have the benefit packages made available to politicians either. Possibly we taxpayers should request that all politicians take a 15% cut in their salaries and assist with the diminishing funds you speak of. If you really want to create positive change, you may want to look at the system of how drugs are prescribed and by whom, how are they recorded and documented, are people double dipping a flawed system, which you, as Minister of Health could address through policy changes and creating an accountability framework. Please stop blaming the person who is living in pain, has been prescribed pain medication, can no longer work, not only because of the pain, but also by dealing with an addiction caused by a flawed health care system. I do however agree that there are individuals who misuse and take advantage of the system, but maybe there needs to be an overall examination and review of the programs and individuals managing these programs, before just placing blame on the people accessing them. If a program is not working in an efficient fashion, reassess the program, identify the challenges, barriers and develop programs that will not only serve those accessing them, but will also strive to manage the public finances. We can now ask God to help us if we are going to have a healthcare system similar to a banking institution. Higher fees, longer waits and long lines and CEO’s getting the bigger bang for our buck. I don’t know about your neighbours feeling their hard earned money is being abused, but I would like to think most people I know would feel good if their hard earned money was going to help someone in need. I do agree that there are and always will be individuals who are cognizant abusers of the system, but we cannot paint everyone with the same brush, therefore causing additional hardship for some because of those who may be taking advantage. It is my feeling that we need additional funds put towards educational programs, back to work programs, skills development programs, etc. It is also vital that those constituents and local grocers/retailers who can, donate to their local food bank to assist those most vulnerable to also make healthy eating choices.

  • RD
    February 25, 2014 - 07:28

    Mr. Glavine you are so right! I work in a doctors office. The number of people we see who refuse to quit smoking, lose weight or move their body in order to improve their own health is astounding! They get frustrated if the doctor tells them they need to participate in feeling better. They want a pill, surgery or quick fix without changing any of their bad habits. There are a multitude of comments here about poverty and food security and costs. Here's a thought - QUIT SMOKING and you could afford to drink milk rather than soda. Better yet drink water - and Mr. Glavine was not suggesting people all stop paying their rent to pay for a gym membership. But what if people decided to go for a walk (free) instead of sitting down to watch more cable TV (not free). It's all about choices. As long as this society continues to refuse to take care of what is within their control we will continue to have wait lists for specialists that are several years long. Even people who are wheelchair bound are able to move their bodies and stretch and build their muscles. Let's turn our health around Nova Scotia!

  • Peter and Nancy Cornu
    February 25, 2014 - 07:09

    Well said. Too too bad we didn't do this when we were younger. We both have cleaned up our act in the last twenty years. It's a learned habit. If I don't walk an hour a day I feel cheated. I also swim an hour every day except Saturday.

  • TJ
    February 24, 2014 - 20:24

    Having read the posted comments I am forced to conclude that either very few people actually read the entire article or there is a real problem with reading comprehension. I strongly disagree with the Honourable gentleman's politics, but his intention should be clear to anyone with no more than a basic understanding of English. He in no way suggested using the banking model to justify the level of healthcare a citizen should receive, in fact in the very next paragraph he stated very clearly that it would be inhumane. The angry mob can return the pillory and pranger to the cellar. There is no need for a witch hunt.

  • kathy briand
    February 24, 2014 - 19:55

    You make some good points, but unfortunately have removed any moral legitimacy by sticking in that dig at the poor. I worked with the poor for 25 years before retiring, and it still makes me sick to hear that ridiculous lie that the poor are abusing their hard working neighbours. You have no conception of the reality of these people's lives. In 2010 the maximum welfare for a single person in NS was 9000.00 less than the poverty level, and for a single parent with one child it was 4000.00 less. It's simply disgusting for anyone, especially a politician, to not only buy into but propagate the absurd notion that the poorest among us are living some enchanted life on someone else's dime. It's even more disgusting when there was simply no need whatever to bring up the issue in the context of the discussion.

  • Amy Rafuse
    February 24, 2014 - 19:54

    The facts in this story are right on track... our health is our own responsibility - and while yes, I agree, there is a money factor, it's is a lot less about money and more about choices and being educated about nutrition and lifestyle. and I won't even get in to the debate about spending money on cigarettes versus cabbages, carrot and potatoes to make a healthy pot of stew. if we were all being absolutely truthful about nutrition - we'd be admitting that it's really the time it takes to make stews, lentils, beans, home made bread, etc that is stopping a lot of people. shame on us for saying it's because"we can't afford it." pizza, kd and coke is much faster.

  • Taylor
    February 24, 2014 - 17:49

    It's pretty easy to tell people to get more exercise and eat better, being someone who is able to afford healthy food, is it not Mr. Glavine? Perhaps you should take a step back and examine the fact that wages have most definitely not kept up with tax hikes and inflation, meaning people have to put in more hours to afford even less than they had the year previously. You mistake being blunt for maturity.

  • Jim
    February 24, 2014 - 17:24

    It is unfortunate that someone who is charged with leading Nova Scotia's health care system has no concept of the determinants of health. Personal choice is one small part of the equation. Blaming disadvantaged Nova Scotians is not what we need right now. Perhaps the Minister should try living on welfare for a year to see how it impacts his health!

    • Margaret Briand
      February 25, 2014 - 08:12

      Thank You!! I don'gt think these comments are inappropriate at all, and my views on the subject are far more harsh. I'm sick of working two jobs to make ends meet while alot of Nova Scotians are just draws on society. Nova scotia id full of lazy, entitled, useless people. I'll assume any replies I get will be from awful peolple trying to protect their "right" to abuse the system and keep on taking. someday the money will run out.

    • B Briand
      February 25, 2014 - 08:14

      Thank You!! I don't think these comments are inappropriate at all, and my views on the subject are far more harsh. I'm sick of working two jobs to make ends meet while alot of Nova Scotians are just draws on society. Nova scotia is full of lazy, entitled, useless people. I'll assume any replies I get will be from awful people trying to protect their "right" to abuse the system and keep on taking. someday the money will run out.

    • B Briand
      February 25, 2014 - 08:15

      Thank You!! I don't think these comments are inappropriate at all, and my views on the subject are far more harsh. I'm sick of working two jobs to make ends meet while alot of Nova Scotians are just draws on society. Nova scotia is full of lazy, entitled, useless people. I'll assume any replies I get will be from awful people trying to protect their "right" to abuse the system and keep on taking. someday the money will run out.

  • Joseph Landry
    February 24, 2014 - 17:16

    I agree completely with the message of lose weight, stop smoking & eat properly. These are steps we can take on our own

  • Arlene
    February 24, 2014 - 14:19

    The premise of Minister Glavine's argument that exercise and proper nutrition would go a long way to improving personal health and the state of the health care system is sound, however, his analysis as to why we, as Nova Scotians, are not practicing what he is trying to preach reveals a huge gap in his understanding of what determines a person's personal health care practice. Unfortunately in Nova Scotia, soda is much cheaper than milk, which at $4.00/litre is a significant portion of middle, lower, and IA recipients food budget. This is not just a problem that impacts social assistance recipients or those living in poverty, middle income earners are proportionately the highest taxed; between the taxes, the costs of power, heat, and gas and the complete lack of assistance, from middle income earners down, this is a province that can not afford the luxury of fresh produce, supportive sneakers, gym memberships, or giving up one of the two jobs you're working to pay the bills, in order to do push ups and walk a couple of miles.

  • Ruth Currie
    February 24, 2014 - 12:44

    Wow-very condescending and judgment are my immediate responses. Who would determine who is practicing a “healthy lifestyle” There are people, families and children living in poverty in this province who cannot afford safe, appropriate housing and enough food to feed their families. Are we victim blaming? I believe that people are responsible for making healthy lifestyle choices, some choices are within our control. We need to recognize and take responsibility for those in our province who are not in privileged positions and unable to meet some of their basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. I would like to believe that we are a province who treats all people equally and that would include equal access to health care. I am concerned with what kind of criteria would be used to determine a person’s eligibility for health care, unlike a bank I believe that our health is more subjective than a sum of money being borrowed from a bank. I am offended by the analogy used in the article. I would like to believe that the decision makers are more aware of the issues of poverty, food security, and housing that influence healthy choices. If one is aware of the determinants of health it sheds some light on all of the societal issues that influence the health of a community; these go beyond personal choice making. I am disheartened by the lack of insight demonstrated in this article, especially from our minister of health. We need to be working to alleviate poverty and create sustainable jobs in our province so that people do not have to leave our province to work in order to make a home and feed their family. Let’s put some energy into ending child poverty in this province, lower the number of visits to the food bank in our province. Less victim blaming and more attention to developing the potential for all the residents of Nova Scotia until this happens everyone has equal opportunity to make “healthy” choices. More solutions and less blame, this is a societal issue, a political issue indeed. Let this government take responsibility and look at making changes. Ruth Currie

  • tony
    February 24, 2014 - 11:59

    Wow, not sure where to start with the ramblings of the minister and his blame it on the disadvantaged tirade. When a government has no answers or does not care about the people they represent they always resort to attacking those in need. I would suggest the minister actually do some reading, research and most importantly talking to the ordinary people before spouting off with dribble. This Liberal government seems to only be willing to help their fellow party members and the remainder are told to look after your self . Is there any segment of society needing help that he did not place blame on for abusing their neighbors money. The saying those who live in glass houses should not cast stones applies here. If there ever has been anyone "guilty of abusing their neighbours’ hard-earned money" then this government is certainly guilty as charged. Leo Glavine you are disgusting and should issue an apology to all hard working Nova Scotians and immediately tender your resignation. But then that would be accepting responsibility for your own actions and we all know that does not apply to the government in any shade.

  • AA
    February 24, 2014 - 09:18

    I am shocked by the minister's lack of understanding of the social determinants of health. He should have at least Google them before writing this article. If this article was to be written by any first-year university or college student in Nova Scotia, it would have probably gotten a D for the lack of research on the topic.

  • tromboneguy
    February 23, 2014 - 22:48

    THIS, is what Liberals think. They are NO different from Tories. This is what Trudeau will bring Canada as well. Be carefull about allowing yourself to believe that under Mr. Trudeau things will be different this time.

  • Steve
    February 23, 2014 - 21:11

    Rather than a coherent discussion of health care issues, this appears to be a collection of random thoughts collected on a single page. How did the travel habits of people on social assistance find it way into a discussion on health care funding? Even within Mr Galvine's health care discussion he needs to go back and seriously rethink some of his analogies. For example, the major difference between a bank and a health care system seems to be that people rarely die from being denied a loan, where the same cannot be said for health care. I hope that this type of thinking is not what is leading health care decisions in Nova Scotia.

  • Annette
    February 23, 2014 - 19:59

    A 'health' minister wrote this? You have got to be joking! Ever heard of poverty and food security...no, you choose to blame poor health on individuals. Yes, let's refuse assistance to those who need it, what an awesome idea. Idiotic.

  • Keith P.
    February 23, 2014 - 17:59

    It sounds like Min. Glavine has been brainwashed by Dr. Robert Strang, the Chief Provincial Nanny, who incidentally is also the highest-paid bureaucrat in Min. Glavine's department. Strang is an advocate for social engineering, for using the heavy hand of govt to interfere in people's lives and intrude into their decisions, and ultimately to take away their freedoms. He waged war against tobacco, continues to wage war against drinking, and most recently has fired the initial shots in a war against e-cigs in spite of considerable evidence that they are a great aid to people quitting smoking. It sounds, if this chilling article is to be believed, that he has quickly captured this Minister. I call upon the Premier to reassign Min. Glavine to a portfolio where he will do less damage, and install a Minister of Health who will rein in Dr. Strang.

  • Jay
    February 23, 2014 - 17:27

    I'm surprised at the response to this column. Mr. Glavine isn't "blaming the victim" nor is he preparing to remove service for those who are disadvantaged. He is merely pointing out a fact that needs to be made: We cannot abuse ourselves and then rely on the emergence care system to look after us. The burden on the emergency side of health care is enormous and a big proportion of that is due to people who make poor health choices. Only when we start to turn that around will we level out the burden on our system

    • MJP
      February 25, 2014 - 13:05

      He oversimplifies the issue and is incredibly condescending. Do you really believe there is a person left in NS who doesn't know that smoking is bad for you and that exercise is good? He needs to investigate the reasons that people are making poor lifestyle decisions. The high cost of a healthy diet is one, but I believe that stress and mental health issues are probably the biggest challenge. Also, a person working a low income job and caring for a family has more immediate challenges that avert their attention from their own long-term health.

  • sharon
    February 23, 2014 - 16:28

    Wow. This guy is a health minister? Does he know that sometimes folks really can't help having an illness (I had thyroid cancer; my fault?) No words that can be printed.

    • anastasia
      February 24, 2014 - 17:32

      I think the negative comments about Leo Glavine's article are hilarious. Something needs to be done to ensure the sustainability of our healthcare system b/c people, its a sinking ship. No one can argue that. I doubt the article was meant as a written in stone policy as to how things should be handled but merely a wake up call. As it is now we could either pay higher taxes or live a healthier lifestyle. Make better lifestyle choices or if you choose not to, don't gripe and groan about how crappy our healthcare system is. Be accountable and give those people who do become ill a chance to receive timely quality healthcare.

  • Julie
    February 22, 2014 - 11:13

    The Liberal Health Minister's blame the victim mentality is disturbing. Suggesting that there are people who are "cognizant abusers of the system," as if people choose to be ill, is distressing. I don't want to "imagine healthcare working like banks."

    • andsoitgoes
      February 23, 2014 - 14:20

      People CONSTANTLY choose to be ill by not exercising, smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, and eating convenient, packaged or pre-prepared foods! YOUR health is not the responsibility of the system, it is YOUR responsibility!!!

    • Lorna
      February 24, 2014 - 13:21

      Really? Are you serious 'andsoitgoes' ? You think people actually choose to be sick? I hope you are being sarcastic! Look up the social determinants of health - not everyone has those choices or has the privilege you speak of.

  • Ketan Shankardass
    February 21, 2014 - 20:35

    Eeeek! Scary as hell: "Imagine if healthcare worked like banks. Patients would have to prove they practice a healthy lifestyle before receiving assistance. They would have to prove that they practice the basic tenets of proper eating and exercise. Such a system would save money for those who have not abused their health and need medical care."

  • Elaine Campbell
    February 21, 2014 - 12:38

    These analogies are consistant with a blame the victim way of thinking. Most persons on assistance are unable to work due to disability or unskilled to work. Being on Assistance means that more than their housing allowance goes into their housing costs as they are not given enough to cover housing costs. A single disabled person gets $535 to cover housing. In Truro you can't find an apartment for $535 and so most have to dip into their food allowance to have a place to live. The Dieticians of Nova Scotia have costed a heathly food basket and found that person who are low income or on IA can not afford to eat healthy, the same barriers are present for activity. Can't afford proper sneekers, Can't afford transportation to get to free activities. So Minister Glavine, does the governmnent have some solutions for these issues. If the government offered a fair living allowance or a guaranteed income supplement, you would have less persons on income assistance, you would be supporting people to eat healthy and exercise. persons working at mininum wage could manage, there would be less costs for the health system and you could put more energy into supporting people to follow the healthy lifestyle you are suggesting instead of blaming them. For the lack of resources to follow it have been resulting in choices that the governments have made. Imagine a governement that feeds it's children and puts safe roof over their heads before paying down the morgage or investing in large corporations. You may wish to look at the impact of the social determinants of health before you blame low income persons for their "lifesyle" choices because they don't have the same options as you do.

    • Jessica B
      February 26, 2014 - 17:48

      Mr.glavine I have read your article thoroughly as well as the comments and although I understand that you are trying to say that we as citizens need to be in charge if our own health I feel however that you are stereotyping and not doing proper research before coming to your judgment. And yes what are saying about smokers and people who love on assistance is stereotyping and judging. As an individual who has grown up living with mental illness there was a point in my life where I had to live on assistance bouncing back and forth between group homes and shelters and the one thing that stopped me from doing serious self harm was smoking. However assistance helped me, they supported me in going to college and getting a diploma and getting my life on track. I'm now almost 30 and just stable enough within my mental health that I'm ready to give up ny last vice and quit smoking. So was I drain on the system? Am I still now? I dont think I was or am but according to your article I am. Leo glavine I think next you should think before you speak. Sincerly , Jessica Blaikie

  • A
    February 21, 2014 - 11:51

    With the greatest respect, Mr. Galvine, I must respond with the assertion that you are mistaken, if you were referring to the social assistance system, the Department of Community Services. Most people, in my experience, who rely upon government assistance programs are not there by choice--the majority of people with whom I have dealt would much rather be working, or...not here at all...but neither option is possible. Granted, most people express gratitude for what they *do* receive. However, with the punitive rules and regulations in place, and the culture of disrespect (though not all department staff convey this attitude, to be sure) that one sees within the system, securing a healthy diet, proper medication and adequate housing are almost impossible. Even when a team is truly committed to securing the best for their client's needs, it is an uphill battle to secure these things. It is is increasingly difficult for people who are able to hold down a full-time job to manage the basics, never mind those who cannot work for various reasons. In light of these circumstances, opportunities outside of the home for social inclusion and well-being are beyond the reach of most. Respectfully, Mr. Glavine, I would urge you to spend some time icognito within these systems to gain a more nuanced understanding of these realities. It takes but a dip in the economy, a superior who takes one in dislike, or an accident to change one's life in an instant, and force reliance upon these services.

  • Katherine Reed
    February 21, 2014 - 08:48

    On the kind of welfare benefits provided to really disadvantaged people, including those with serious, long-term disabilities, there's no way to secure decent housing and a healthy diet, never mind access to things outside of the home that would improve social and family supports and a sense of inclusion and well-being. That's one of our biggest problems and it has absolutely nothing to do with people not being willing to get into the canoe or helicopter, Mr. Glavine. Read up on the social determinants of health. I'm sure you'd find the work of Dennis Raphael and Toba Bryant edifying. With all due respect, Sir, you definitely are in need of a perspective adjustment.