Set against the backdrop of a strike vote taken by nurses at Capital Health to protest the unwillingness of Glavine’s ministry to bargain better nurse-to-patient ratios, the irony is not lost on Solidarity Halifax that the man who shames those of us not up to his standards of healthy living is actively endangering the health of thousands of patients and healthcare workers.
Minister Glavine’s comments about the lifestyles of people living on social assistance demonstrates a relentless attack on the poor in our province. He repeats the lies invented by Reagan-era Republicans: “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.”
Glavine’s cynical intent is clear: sow divisions between workers with jobs and workers without to pursue an austerity crash course. It’s the oldest trick in the capitalist playbook: how can we fight the coming reduction in healthcare services if we’re fighting each other? If his desire for efficient administration were sincere, why is he not demanding that Premier MacNeil and other Liberal colleagues pay back their outrageous travel expenses? Are they not abusing their neighbours’ hard earned money too?
Or what about an end to the province’s sweetheart relationship with Emera, the profit-hungry corporation the Liberals created and now has a stranglehold on Nova Scotian citizens? Or making the millionaires and billionaires who do get “free money” through overly generous tax breaks pay their fair share?
Further concerning is his own personal defense as reported by the CBC: “Glavine didn’t apologize. He said the column isn’t reflective of government policy. But he also said he hopes to see those ideas become part of the focus of the department.”
Victim-blaming is not healthcare policy. If he were truly interested in making Nova Scotia a healthier place, he would tackle the causes of poor-nutrition and the root stresses of coping behaviours: poverty caused by low wages and inadequate assistance rates, pervasive racism, the isolation and marginalization of First Nations communities, overpriced slum-housing, the lack of comprehensive Early Childhood Education, among others. These problems are all rooted in the inequalities caused by capitalism.
We should be watchful of Glavine and the Liberal’s agenda for Healthcare. His comments were undoubtedly meant to test the waters in the pursuit of a regressive course.
Health Minister Overlooks Barriers to Healthy Lifestyle
by James Hutt, Provincial Coordinator of the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network and member of Solidarity Halifax
Social Darwinism with a Folksy Charm: Leo Glavine’s food politics
by Scott Domenie, member of Nova Scotia ACORN and of Solidarity Halifax