GUYSBOROUGH – There’s a new name in the hat for the Guysborough–Tracadie riding in this provincial election, but he isn’t an unfamiliar face. Progressive Conservative candidate Greg Morrow is a long-time, well-known broadcaster in the Strait area, whose journalism career has given him a solid understanding of the issues and concerns of the Guysborough-Tracadie area.
Morrow spoke to The Journal last week about the issues he’s heard at the door and as a reporter covering the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) council in recent years.
“Healthcare is the number one issue I’ve been hearing ... Right across the province, we’re really in a crisis,” said Morrow.
“We know right now there are 70,000 people waiting for a family doctor. From a party standpoint … we put out our plan for healthcare, mental health and seniors’ care over a year ago. We’ve had these plans in place, so we are ready to get going.
“In terms of healthcare and doctor shortages, it’s about creating a retirement fund for full-time physicians and matching that, telehealth and virtual care, more access to operating rooms instead of just Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 – to help clear up that backlog; and those are just a few of the key points,” said Morrow.
At the local level, Morrow said, “One thing I like is the municipality [MODG] coming forward with their doctor incentive program; $100,000 as an incentive for a doctor to come and work in the area. That’s a great start and I think as an MLA I can certainly work with them to help recruit doctors. It’s just too bad it got to that [point] because obviously health care isn’t a municipal issue, but the municipality felt they had to act and do something because of the need.”
Lately, another health care profession shortage getting media coverage is nursing. Morrow said the shortfall needs to be addressed with more training, recruiting and retention. “Burnout,” he added, “that is something that I hear when I am knocking on doors, nurses – whether they’re in hospitals or long-term care – some of them, they can’t take their vacation because there’s just not enough staff.”
Emergency Health Services
Hand in glove with doctor and nursing shortages is the issue of ambulance service. Morrow told The Journal, “This is something that as a reporter covering council in Guysborough, I’ve heard it come up in municipal council. This isn’t just an election issue; this has been going on for a while and it hasn’t been addressed. I know that council has tried to reach out to the province on a number of occasions to try to get some answers to this because of what they have been hearing locally.
“When it comes to ambulances, you shouldn’t be able to get a pizza quicker than you can get an ambulance … But it’s all connected. When seniors can’t get a long-term care bed they go to the hospital and when the hospitals are full, paramedics can’t off load patients, and when paramedics can’t off load patients, they can’t respond to calls. That’s why we are talking about investing in improvements in primary care, long-term care and the quality of life for people in the province to take some of the pressure off that ambulance system,” he said.
People who live in the Guysborough-Tracadie riding often say it is one of the best places to live in the province – that’s if you can find a roof to call your own.
Morrow said, “I’ve understood that it’s hard to find a place to buy or rent but I didn’t know quite how bad it was until I got out and started knocking on doors … It came up a lot with people I talked to.
“Obviously, we need to increase the housing supply. How do we do that? We build more, we work with the trades, we work with Nova Scotia Lands and see what is there for inventory. And then also work with developers and not-for-profits to see what we can do,” he said.
In April, the Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) cut service hours at the Sherbrooke, Guysborough and Canso branches; a move that elicited a strong negative reaction from local municipal councils in the District of St. Mary’s and the District of Guysborough.
As a reporter, Morrow has had a front row seat to the MODG’s various requests to the province for help on this issue. He said he understands the issue and the frustration of council and added, “Libraries are an important community hub … for some people libraries are the only place they can access reliable Internet. We’ve got to find a way to increase those hours. I’ll fight to get the funding that our libraries need.
“There has been some back and forth between the ECRL and council so, maybe if both sides are willing, that’s an opportunity where I can come in and help as a mediator and sit down with both sides and see if we can’t get somewhere,” he said.
On the doorstep
A week into the campaign, Morrow said voters have voiced concerns about local infrastructure: roads and Internet. “We want to get Internet to every house in the province and we can work on that outside the Develop Nova Scotia program (embed- https://internet.developns.ca/?utm_source=DNS%20Website&utm_medium=Homepage&utm_campaign=INSI). That is running along but for people outside of that, we want to support them with Starlink [satellite Internet constructed by SpaceX] and subsidize the cost of purchase for that.”
At the ballot box
When asked why voters should check the box next to the name Greg Morrow, when they vote in the provincial election, he said, “Because I’ll work hard for them. When I go around to houses and knock on doors I say, ‘Look, I am not here to promise that I’ll pave your road, or I’ll do this or that. I am not going to promise anything that I don’t know yet if I can do or not. All I can do is promise that I’ll work hard.’ I want to work with people. I want them to be able to reach out to me, to phone my office, to send an email … to figure out how we can work on their issues.
“At the end of the day, I want to work hard and be honest with people and be someone that’s approachable, [who] they know they can come to and will listen to their concerns,” Morrow said.
Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal