Nova Scotia bill targets medical paperwork, aims to reduce number of sick notes – Halifax
The Nova Scotia government on Tuesday introduced a bill aimed at making life easier for medical professionals by lowering some licensing fees and limiting employers from requiring sick notes from their employees.
Michelle Thompson told a briefing on the legislature’s first day of spring that to fix Nova Scotia’s health care system, “we can’t continue to do things the same way.”
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Thompson said a component of this bill would save up to 50,000 hours of physician time per year when employers can ask for sick notes.
“It’s a waste of our physicians’ valuable time, and it’s time they can’t afford to waste,” she said. “It’s also a waste of time for Nova Scotians who would be better off at home when it’s better.”
Under the new bill, provincially regulated employers in Nova Scotia will only be allowed to take sick notes from employees who have been off work for more than five days or who already have two sick leave days within the past 12 months. There are absences.
Also, the application fee and first-year license fee paid by physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other regulated medical professionals moving to Nova Scotia from elsewhere in Canada will be waived. The application fee is around $200 and the license fee ranges from $1,000 to $2,000.
Doctors Nova Scotia president Dr. Leisha Hawker said in an interview Tuesday that she hopes the fee waiver for doctors working in Canada can be a good recruiting tool for early-career physicians.
“One of the key demographics for recruiting are those who are finishing residency,” Hawker said.
“And at that point you typically have a lot of upfront costs, switching to larger student loan payment modes, and you’re probably looking at licensing fees in different jurisdictions,” Hawker said, adding to the potential cash savings. making it more important.
“It’s great, because if we get them while they’re young and fresh, they can fall in love with Nova Scotia and hopefully stay for their entire careers,” she said.
The legislation, which includes two new Acts and amendments to two other Acts, would also allow the province to change how regulated medical professionals are able to expand their scope of care.
Thompson said the changes would allow the government to move quickly to allow all healthcare professionals to “work on their full training”.
For example, nurse practitioners and pharmacists may perform certain roles currently reserved for other health professionals.
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The minister said the expansion of areas of care would be worked out in consultation with the concerned medical college or regulator, though the wording of the bill leaves the government finalizing whether changes are made.
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Dr. Gus Grant, CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, said in an interview Tuesday that he’s pleased to see the government “really leaning into the challenge of access to care.”
He said he agreed that all regulated medical professionals should be allowed to work within their full scope of care.
“Nurses and pharmacists and occupational therapists are in the best position to know what nurses and pharmacists and occupational therapists are trained to do and can do safely,” Grant said.
Opposition Liberal leader Zac Churchill said on Tuesday he was concerned the bill gives the final say on the scope of care to the government.
“The colleges should be the final decision makers because they have the standards for patient safety,” Churchill said. NDP Leader Claudia Chander also expressed concern about the proposed change Tuesday, calling it “disturbing.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 21, 2023.
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