Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston’s state of the province address on Friday touched on the economy, focused on the government’s firm commitment to healthcare reform and included the announcement of Cape Breton University’s new medical school.
The Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion on Sydney’s waterfront was packed with members of the business community and politicians who had heard Houston say CBU would train the next generation of doctors in collaboration with the county’s other medical school at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
The school is expected to start taking students by the fall of 2025, and as soon as possible if possible, he said, but there is no estimate yet of the cost.
“It’s possible that there will be money at some point as it goes,” Houston told reporters after his speech. “The support is there financially to make this happen. We want this to happen in Cape Breton.”
CBU President David Dingwall thanked the Prime Minister for his support of the university.
Today marks an important day in the history of Cape Breton University [and] Most importantly, health care for Nova Scotia,” Dingwall said.
The school is expected to graduate up to 30 new doctors a year for at least the first six years, Dingwall said, which will help the indigenous and rural population of the island and the county.
CBU expects to acquire the county-owned buildings at the neighboring Nova Scotia Community College, which is moving into new buildings in downtown Sydney.
Older buildings on campus are expected to house the School of Nursing and College of Social Work, as well as a new primary care clinic for up to 10,000 people.
Dingwall said the CBU has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dalhousie to work together on setting up the new medical school in Cape Breton and they are working out costs.
There is a housing shortage in the community, he added, but new medical residents may be housed in old hospital buildings that the county is redeveloping.
In his speech, the Prime Minister spoke about the economy and highlighted the growing population, investments in green energy and efforts to attract more skilled labour.
He pointed out that these initiatives will help increase the revenues of the governorate.
However, Houston has maintained that his conservative, progressive government is focused on health care reform and he is urging everyone in the industry and government to make it happen.
“We need more and we have to go faster and in terms of cost – whatever it takes,” he said.
Houston said Nova Scotia spends 41 cents of every dollar on health care and it’s not sustainable.
“On current trends, our regional budget could be completely consumed in just over two decades,” he said.
“The prime minister said there is no point in putting money on a broken system, and I agree with him… Fortunately, there are many ways the prime minister can help.”
The prime minister said he was looking forward to a meeting with other prime ministers and the prime minister next week, where he would ask for more federal funding, but also help increase immigration, especially among trained healthcare workers.
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