HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia MLA is apologizing for a social media post that appeared to blame rising health care costs on the "lifestyle choices" of the province's residents. Hugh MacKay, who represents Chester-St. Margaret's for the governing Liberals ...and more »
THE CANADIAN PRESSPublished Monday, July 23, 2018 4:16PM ADTLast Updated Monday, July 23, 2018 10:39PM ADT
HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia MLA is apologizing for a social media post that appeared to blame rising health care costs on the "lifestyle choices" of the province's residents.
Hugh MacKay, who represents Chester-St. Margaret's for the governing Liberals, said in a Facebook post Sunday that Nova Scotia is plagued by chronic diseases that are "often linked to lifestyle choices."
"Smoking, over-consumption of alcohol, poor diet, and inactivity all greatly increase the risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer," he said in the post, which has since been deleted.
"The treatment costs for these oft-preventable diseases is immense and is a source of great frustration for our health care professionals and for your government."
MacKay urged people to "think about the immense wasted costs in treating the results of our lifestyle choices" before questioning why there isn't more money for other services.
The post was fiercely criticized, with Progressive Conservative health critic Eddie Orrell calling it a "slap in the face to all Nova Scotians who aren't getting the health care they deserve."
"Preventive care may have a role to play, but this is not the way to start the conversation," Orrell said in a statement.
"This is a slap in the face to the men and women without family doctors, the patients laying on stretchers in hospital hallways and the ambulances lines up a dozen deep at the ER doors."
In an apology posted to his Facebook page on Monday, MacKay said his post did not reflect the fact that health care is a complex, multifaceted issue.
"As many folks pointed out, I failed to properly address the social determinants of health," he said.
"I apologize to those who were offended."
Health care has been a hot-button topic in Nova Scotia, with the doctor shortage emerging as a key issue during the 2017 provincial election.
The Department of Health and Wellness budget is $4.37 billion, more than 40 per cent of the provincial budget.
MacKay suggested in his deleted post that the ballooning health care budget has reduced the money available for education, roads, and community services.
MacKay was first elected in 2017 after a career in the geo-information technologies sector, according to his website.
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