Roundup: New doctor-recruitment strategy, worry for loved ones in Ukraine as fighting goes on, COVID update, no injuries after ambulance crash, two charged after guns stolen

Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces dig in to defend Kyiv. Photo: Yan Boechat/Wikimedia Commons

Plus: Halifax’s 128-year-old Local Council of Women navigates new challenges

The Nova Scotia government has announced a new campaign to recruit doctors to the province, promising to contact interested applicants within 24 hours and make an offer to qualified candidates within 10 business days.

“I’ve heard from doctors who moved away to train and many really want to come home,” Premier Tim Houston says in a press release. “I want them to know that we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to make health care better for patients, doctors, and all health-care professionals. I am happy to speak personally to doctors if that will help convince them to come home.”

The government is also budgeting about $10 million in bonuses for doctors. The new Primary Care Physician Incentive Program encourages doctors to establish a family practice outside the Halifax area. Doctors can earn up to $125,000 in incentives: $25,000 when they sign and $20,000 per year for the next five years. The Specialist Physician Incentive Program offers the same bonuses to specialists who establish a practice outside the Halifax area.

The organization representing the province’s doctors welcomes the announcement.

“Physician recruitment is extremely competitive, so I’m pleased to see that Nova Scotia’s recruiters now have more tools,” Dr. Heather Johnson, president of Doctor’s Nova Scotia, says in the government press release. “We hope to work with government to ensure these new incentives are administered in a way that fully supports the needs of physician recruits.”

Svitlana Palahuta

Worry for loved ones in Ukraine
Svitlana Palahuta immigrated to Back Bay, N.B. with her husband and three children in 2019. Like many expatriates, she still has numerous friends and family back in Ukraine.

She can only watch in horror as the Russian invasion rolls over her homeland — so far, her loved ones are safe, but for how long?

“They do not leave the house and do not walk by the streets,” she says. “They’re hiding underground in the cellar. Of course, it’s not a specialized place … It’s cold and wet inside … A lot of Russian military soldiers, machines, tanks, vehicles are in my home town and all around.”

Krisi Marples interviews her for the Saint Croix Courier.

COVID update
The Houston government is now releasing weekly COVID-19 updates instead of the daily reports, so it’s harder to get an accurate picture of how the disease is affecting the province, but the latest federal information shows it’s still widespread across the country.

There are 113,304 known active cases of the disease across Canada (excluding Saskatchewan, which has stopped reporting COVID data, in the apparent hope that if they ignore it, it will go away). The bulk of the recent new cases in the last two weeks are in Quebec (17,641) and Ontario (25,726).

However Nova Scotia actually has a higher COVID infection rate, with health officials estimating 287 ill people per 100,000 population in the province, compared to 205 in Quebec, 174 in Ontario, and 200 nationally.

So far, COVID has killed 36,986 people in Canada, and 212 Nova Scotians.

Sarah B. MacDonald

Building on a historic foundation
Days before setting sail on the Titanic, philanthropist George Wright changed his will, bequeathing his stately South End Halifax home to a group of feminists.

Since Wright’s untimely demise in 1912, the grand Queen Anne Revival manor on the corner of Young Avenue and Inglis Street has been home to the Local Council of Women Halifax.

But recently, the drafty old building with peeling paint and crumbling façade, has required a revamp — in many ways a metaphor for the organization’s own modernization work.

“We had to find a new business model that would further our mission and further the work we wanted to do and also, of course, cover the cost of running a community center with no external funding,” Council president Sarah B. MacDonald says. “We were getting back down to the floorboards, so we made sure we had folks in who knew heritage buildings. It was a big investment, but it really paid off.”

Janet Whitman has the story for Unravel Halifax.

No injuries after ambulance crash
Officials say no one was hurt after an ambulance and transport truck, travelling in opposite directions, sideswiped one another on Hwy. 103 on Feb. 17.

“There were strong winds in the area at the time and it is believed that a gust of wind pushed the vehicles together as they passed each other,” says RCMP Cpl. Chris Marshall. Environment Canada’s website shows winds were in the 34 km/h range at the time of the collision.

Emergency Health Services spokesman Remo Zaccagna says there were no patients in the ambulance, but refuses to say how many crew were onboard or if they were responding to a call.

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Two charged after Pictou County gun theft
Two men appeared in provincial court in Pictou yesterday, after someone broke into a Three Brooks home earlier this month, stealing 10 guns and a crossbow. Thirty-two-year-old Patrick Owen MacDonald of River John and 26-year-old Brandon Joseph Ward of Moncton both face multiple charges.

Police say they cracked the case on March 4, when a driver carrying a stolen revolver attempted to flee a checkpoint on Hwy. 6.

The Pictou Advocate has more.

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