Nova Scotia health minister won't be fired in Pharmacare controversy, says premier

Seniors' pharmacare controversy prompts calls for Health Minister Leo Glavine to be fired. Premier Stephen McNeil says that won't happen.

Premier Stephen McNeil 'not happy' about letter sent to seniors outlining changes

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil brushed aside the calls to fire his health minister due to the ongoing controversy about changes to the seniors' pharmacare program. (CBC)

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil stood by his health minister on Tuesday and said Leo Glavine will not be fired, despite a demand from opposition leaders that Glavine be dismissed over the pharmacare controversy.

The provincial government is changing the seniors' pharmacare program come April 1, and will require some users to pay higher premiums for drugs.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie has accused Glavine of "lying" about the coming changes, while interim NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald said the minister had not been "forthright" or "accurate."

McNeil brushed aside the calls to sack his cabinet colleague.

"I didn't ask for their advice when I was going to appoint him to cabinet," he said.

"I certainly won't ask for their advice when I need to shuffle cabinet and I don't see any need to shuffle cabinet today."

'Not happy' about letter explaining changes

McNeil's only regret is a letter that went out to seniors outlining the changes to the pharmacare program. Some seniors felt it had a threatening tone — and McNeil agreed it should not have gone out. 

"I hadn't seen the letter until Saturday. A family member showed it to me," the premier told reporters, adding he was "not happy" about the contents.

"I think the phrase, 'Either show us your income level or we're going to charge you $1,200,' was completely inappropriate."

McNeil said the letter gave the impression that everyone would be paying the maximum new premium amount of $1,200.

Some seniors groups have called for the changes to be scrapped, but McNeil said most seniors see them as fair. He said the changes will go forward as planned.

"Once we explain them, people seem to get it. They may not like it but they understand it and they believe it's fair," he said.

"We don't see any need to make any of the changes at this point."

Representatives from nine seniors organizations, which together form an advisory body to the province, are meeting with pharmacare representatives on Wednesday to talk about the changes.

About the Author

Jean Laroche


Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.


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