NDP willing to run deficits to improve health-care system

What happens to a government's work if the government changes?

NDP Leader Gary Burrill wasn't afraid to say it out loud during his first election announcement Monday — he is ready to run a deficit to give Nova Scotians a better health-care system.

Burrill said providing Nova Scotians basic care and the adequate resources to provide it was "a primary commitment" for his party as it campaigns in the lead up to the May 30 election.

So important, in fact, Burrill would be ready to borrow the $120 million his party estimates it will cost to hire the doctors, nurses and other health professionals needed to staff dozens of new clinics across the province over four years.

"We are prepared to run a deficit in the short and medium term in order to accomplish this very important goal," he told reporters in a private clinic in central Halifax.

Health care needs 'dramatic investment,' says Burrill

Burrill said a "dramatic investment" is needed in health care because the McNeil Liberals have been unwilling to do so at the risk of jeopardizing their "holy grail" of balanced budgets.

As an example, the NDP said opening and operating 60 new clinics staffed by 60 family physicians and 60 nurse practitioners would cost $23.4 million. 

But the party said it would instead commit $30 million a year over four years to make sure additional costs are also covered, including incidentals and the hiring of other staff such as dietitians or psychologists.

Burrill said his party would consult with individual communities about their needs, so no two clinics would look or operate the same way.

He said this investment would give all Nova Scotians access to a family doctor.