A column by Nova Scotia's health minister has ignited an online controversy about how much people in this province should be responsible for their own health.

Health Minister Leo Glavine's column published in the Kings County Register on Feb. 6 has some people calling out Glavine for his “backwards” take on health care in Nova Scotia.

In the column, Glavine called on Nova Scotians to quit smoking, get more exercise, and eat better.

He acknowledged it would be inhumane to deny anyone treatment, however he went on to say:

"There are people who are cognizant abusers of the system. 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."

On Monday, Glavine stood by his message.

"Some would say that perhaps soft messaging hasn't worked very well for our population, and it's like a doctor some days has to deliver pretty tough medicine," he said.

Dave Wilson, former Nova Scotia health minister and current NDP health critic, is calling on Glavine to apologize for the remarks.

"I think the minister first should apologize to those low income Nova Scotians. Because, really in his article he blamed them for being a burden on the system," said Wilson.

But Ben Connolly, a naturopath, thinks the minister is on the right track.

"Keep them healthy as opposed to letting them get sick — I thought that was a great spin and it was fresh, and rejuvenating, which you haven't seen coming from a government or an MLA for a long time," he said.

Glavine didn't apologize. He said he's prepared to take criticism on his position. 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.