Nova Scotia·Nova Scotia Votes

Checking the facts on the New Democrats' lines of attack

In this instalment of CBC's Election Notebook: We check the facts on the NDP's lines of attack against the Tories and Liberals.

NDP accuses Tories of privatizing health care, Liberals of cutting services

Welcome to CBC's Election Notebook, your source for regular updates and essential news from the campaign trail.

It's Day 4 of Nova Scotia's 31-day election campaign.

Do the Tories want to privatize health care?

The NDP says so. Let's look at the facts.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill accused the Progressive Conservatives over the weekend of being "focused on privatizing health services and listening to their corporate friends."

When reporters asked Burrill to expand on this position Monday, he said it was based on the Tories' health-care platform, released last year, which includes an expansion of telehealth services.

"We are committing to providing those Nova Scotians on the wait list [for primary care] with immediate access to a virtual care service," reads a platform document.

The PCs said they would issue a tender for those services, and they refer to the company Maple as an example of a private telehealth provider. The Liberal government signed a deal with Maple earlier this year to pilot a program that very closely resembles the PC plan. 

"Telehealth is central to how we're going to get primary care to people," said Burrill. "To propose, as they have, that we move forward with telehealth on a private sector basis rather than a public health-care system is in fact a move to privatize the health-care system as a whole."

Houston said Monday his party is not interested in privatizing health services at all.

"I think anyone who looks at the policy that we put out would know how ridiculous of a statement that is. We've been very clear about the investments we're going to make in health care. Our focus is on fixing health care in this province," said the Tory leader.

The PC health-care platform budgets $2.5 million for the proposed telehealth expansion.

Would a Rankin government cut $209M in programs and services?

The 2021-22 budget tabled and passed by the Liberal government earlier this year includes an estimated $209-million decrease in departmental spending for 2022-23 — a fact that was quickly picked up and called out by the NDP

Burrill highlighted this point again in his speeches over the weekend and in his party's vision document.

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin, however, said that decrease in spending should not be interpreted as a plan to make cuts. He said it simply represents spending related to COVID-19 that will hopefully not be necessary next year.

"We are not going to compromise core services," said Rankin. "We've increased the budget in health care, in education, in community services every year. We're going to continue to do that."

Highlights from Monday

Leaders from all three major parties held morning news conferences Monday. The Tories and NDP proposed changes to emergency medical care, but they had different opinions about what needs fixing.

Rankin visited a vegetable greenhouse in the Annapolis Valley to promise an expansion of an existing rebate program available to companies in any sector wanting to upgrade their equipment in the name of efficiency. Nova Scotia Business Inc. currently administers the program. Rankin said he would budget $45 million over the next five years.

Tuesday's agenda

  • Liberal Leader Iain Rankin will make an announcement about the Cobequid Pass in Amherst.
  • NDP Leader Gary Burrill will make a housing announcement in north-end Halifax.
  • PC Leader Tim Houston will make a policy announcement in downtown Halifax. 

How to vote

Check whether you are registered to vote with Elections Nova Scotia

Once registered, you can vote in advance of election day by requesting a mail-in ballot or by visiting a returning office or advance polling station in your electoral district. 

On election day, polling stations will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. AT.

More information on voting is available from

Check in tomorrow for the next instalment of the Election Notebook, and follow all CBC's election coverage at


Taryn Grant


Taryn Grant is a Halifax-based reporter and web writer for CBC Nova Scotia. You can email her with tips and feedback at