Danny Cavanagh: “The system of long-term care in our province is, for the most part, a private for-profit system and that must end. I think it’s fair to say that the residents and staff in long-term feel neglected, based on their treatment and working conditions.”

Without a doubt one of the most inspiring stories to emerge from the pandemic is how the Preston communities mobilized to protect residents from infection. I spoke with Dr. David Haase, Sharon Davis-Murdoch and Archie Beals, three people who are closely involved, about this and other community initiatives, the role of the government, tomorrow’s town hall on the vaccine, and related matters. Casting a shadow on the entire conversation: what is the role of systemic racism in all this?

Ray Bates on COVID-19 lessons learned. “The first is the importance of an adequate health care system for all. The existing inadequacies and inequalities that have been jarringly exposed because of COVID-19 must be corrected and replaced with services that will enable us to defeat this pandemic and also to be ready for the next one when it rears its deadly head.”

Danny Cavanagh: The headline in the NSGEU/CUPE press release reads “Dozens of hospital employees across Nova Scotia lose jobs to American-owned company just before the holidays.” This a move from a government who praises the dedication of our health care workers but is laying off the 91 employees who work in Health Information Services (HIS), scanning and archiving medical records.

91 well-paying union jobs, many in rural Nova Scotia, will disappear when the Nova Scotia Health Authority farms out its health records management to US-owned Iron Mountain. CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen is concerned how this will impact the already depressed economy in rural Nova Scotia, now stressed even further because of the pandemic. She’s also worried about entrusting an American company with personal health information.

How well is Nova Scotia’s health system serving the Black community during the pandemic? Not well at all, says Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, who is the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies in the Faculty of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology. We spoke about the province’s refusal to collect disaggregated race-based data, the impressive mobilization against COVID by members of the North and East Preston communities, and the challenges of vaccination. More than anything we spoke about racism.