Reality check: Are claims made during the debate accurate?

The leaders of Nova Scotia's three major parties covered a lot of ground during Wednesday night's 90-minute debate. We looked into three of those statements.

Checking the campaign claims against the facts

The CBC fact-checks three claims made by Darrell Dexter, Stephen McNeil and Jamie Baillie in Wednesday's debate. 2:06

The leaders of Nova Scotia's three major parties covered a lot of ground during Wednesday night's 90-minute debate. We looked into three statements.

New Democrat Leader Darrell Dexter said: "One of the things that Mr. McNeil has not told you tonight is what the unemployment rate was the last time the Liberals were in power. It was 12 per cent."

In reality, the last Liberal government was elected in May 1993, taking over from the Progressive Conservatives. The unemployment rate was 14 per cent and rose to more than 15 per cent a few months later, but then it dropped steadily. By the time the Liberals were voted out of office in July 1999, the unemployment rate was 8.9 per cent — that's just slightly higher than it is today.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said: "Typically if one of our sons or daughters went out west, those hours counted toward their blocks in apprenticeship programs here in the province of Nova Scotia. That is no longer the case."

In reality, the provincial Department of Labour told CBC hours worked out west — or any other province — can be used toward apprenticeship programs in Nova Scotia. The rules have been in place since 2003. There is one caveat: the department has to be able to verify the apprentice worked those hours under a certified tradesperson. 

Progressive Conservative Leader Jaime Baillie said: "It's people like the 90-year-old gentleman in my riding who spent three days in a hallway at Cumberland Hospital waiting to see an emergency room doctor."

Checking this statement proved more difficult. CBC News called the Cumberland Health Authority and a spokesperson said it simply did not happen. Citing patient confidentiality, they would not go into the specifics of this case, but said no one has ever waited three days in their ER to see a doctor.

They did say, however, that patients sometimes are kept in beds in the ER or in hallways, waiting to be admitted to a room. When they are busy that wait can be a couple of days, but they insist patients are always seen by a doctor early on.

'Cannot say for sure'

CBC News asked the Progressive Conservatives to provide more detail to back up Baillie's claim. The party said they couldn't reach the man’s family, but gave CBC News a copy of an email detailing the case. Anything that could identify the patient has been removed to protect his privacy.

Email from constituent:

"I need your help to find my elderly stepfather a hospital bed. He is 90 years old and a World War II army veteran. Late Friday night or early Saturday morning he suffered a stroke. He was taken by ambulance to the Springhill hospital, assessed and then transferred to the Amherst hospital. They have determined there he needs care at a unit in the new Truro hospital. That was Saturday and the Truro hospital insists they have no beds in that huge, beautiful, way over-budget building. I would ask his family doctor to put pressure on to see if he can help, but he is on vacation for the next two months.

"Is there any way possible you could help a 90-year-old veteran to get treatment for his stroke and get out of a stretcher in the emergency department in Amherst and into a stroke treatment bed in Truro? Any help you could offer would be of great assistance."

At no point in this email does the family say the man did not see a doctor. The Progressive Conservatives then sent CBC News this email:

"He [Jamie Baillie] may have misspoke, but he cannot say for sure because it happened a few months ago, and the family cannot be reached to confirm.

"We can confirm that the 90-year-old World War II veteran suffered a stroke and waited days for a hospital bed. We are continuing to try to confirm when he first saw a doctor."

Waiting days to get into a hospital bed is obviously a serious issue, but it is not the same as waiting in an emergency room for three days without seeing a doctor.


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