A day after Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston announced a second medical school for the province, people around Cape Breton are still celebrating.
Many feel it could be a game changer when it comes to health care services in the future.
“I think it’s a great announcement for Cape Breton and actually a great announcement for Nova Scotia, but especially Cape Breton,” said David MacKeigan, a member of the community group Bay It Forward.
MacKeigan’s group has attracted three doctors to the area over the past couple of years.
Pre-pandemic potential physicians would be taken on a tour of the Miners Museum, a boat ride along the shoreline and jigging for mackerel — a chance to be introduced to the people here.
MacKeigan says having the school in their own backyard will help with recruiting.
“It will be much easier. We will educate some of our own doctors, and when they’re working with doctors here, they can be shown what Cape Breton is all about,” he said
Houston said the new school will be focused on training students from Nova Scotia, in particular from rural areas.
“We don’t train enough physicians in Canada to replace the physicians who are retiring. The largest group of physicians practicing right now in Canada are the baby boomers and they’ll be returning soon, and we need people to step in and take those positions,” said Dr. Margaret Fraser.
The goal is to graduate up to 30 new doctors a year for at least the first six years.
Cape Breton University hopes to take over the Nova Scotia Community College near the campus, which is moving to downtown Sydney.
CBU President David Dingwall said the building will be home to the school of nursing, social work, and a new primary health clinic for up to 10,000 people.
Fraser says the new facility will help the province better deal with the current health-care crisis in the years to come.
“In the future, it absolutely will because there will be people coming here who want to work in the emergency department, people coming here who want to help train the next generation of emergency physicians, and if we train physicians here, we know that there’s a greater chance they’ll stay here,” she said.
The new medical school plans to open no later than the fall of 2025.