30 Jul Auditor General slams H1N1 readiness
Civil servants are happy with the Dexter Government’s methodical approach to policy because ministers are listening carefully to policy advice and deliberating before acting.
But the issues keep coming, whether government’s ready to act or not. The risk of Dexter’s approach is that ministers may fall into reactive mode, moving from crisis to crisis rather than driving the new government’s policy agenda.
We have already seen Health Minister Maureen MacDonald struggling with the discovery that she cannot wish away the problem of rural emergency room closures, as she and the party assured voters they could during the election. (More on this soon.)
Today, the government faces an alarming report from Auditor General Jacques LaPointe sharply critical of the province’s readiness to deal with the unfolding H1N1 epidemic. He urges “immediate” action to address key deficiencies:
- No one is authorized to exercise overall command and coordination over government’s response to a serious pandemic.
- No central agency has responsibility or authority to to ensure critical government and non-government services such as power, water, snow clearing, policing and fire response continue during a time when absenteeism may be high.
- The province has not assessed the adequacy of pandemic response plans by district health authorities, which provide hospital-based health care service.
- 55 percent of family and emergency room doctors surveyed by the AG were “not happy” with their ability to obtain critical supplies.
Given that we are currently experiencing an H1N1 pandemic, we feel most of our recommendations should be addressed immediately to ensure Nova Scotia responds effectively to the current situation and is ready for any worsening conditions.