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Premier had to accept viral video challenge to meet with Inez Rudderham : prof

Inez Rudderham smiles after trying on a wig while being treated in hospital for cancer. She will meet Premier Stephen McNeil to discuss health care in Nova Scotia.
Inez Rudderham smiles after trying on a wig while being treated in hospital for cancer. She will meet Premier Stephen McNeil to discuss health care in Nova Scotia.

Premier Stephen McNeil really had no choice but to agree to a face-to-face meeting with Inez Rudderham, says a Dalhousie University political sociologist.

“As a leader it’s hard to ignore a video that has had this kind of widespread response,” said Howard Ramos. “The very least the premier can do is reach out after Ms. Rudderham’s video has gone viral with over threee million views and it’s clear that she has suffered some duress and has raised a concern that a number of people feel is a problem that deserves attention.”

The 33-year-old mother with cancer broke the news of her upcoming meeting with McNeil on her Facebook page. The development came six days after she posted an emotionally charged video declaring a health-care crisis in Nova Scotia and dared the premier to have a face-to-face meeting.

“I want to say a big and sincere thank you to everyone who took the time to watch, share and comment on my video,” she wrote. “I am slowly making my way through the messages.

“I want to let you know I’m pleased that the premier’s office has reached out to me and we currently have a tentative date set for a meeting.”

Marilyn Inez: Probably going to regret this but I’m so done.

How to share with just friends.

Posted by Marilyn Inez on Tuesday, April 23, 2019

McNeil was unavailable for comment Wednesday. David Jackson, the premier’s spokesman, said details of the meeting are still being worked on and was unable to say when the get-together is scheduled or what prompted the premier to agree to it.

Ramos says the premier made the right decision that he hopes will help Rudderham and ultimately spur “systemic changes that can improve the health-care system.”

“I think it’s proper leadership to sit down and meet and find out the details of her story to try to better understand the problem,” said Ramos. “It certainly has hit the national media and it’s become part of the conversation in the news cycle for an entire week now so as a leader the premier really has to respond to her story and engage the issue.”

Like many, Ramos is concerned about the province’s chronic family doctor shortage and particularly how it’s playing out in rural areas. The latest Nova Scotia Health Authority data shows 51,119 people on the province’s family practice wait-list.

“There are all kinds of numbers being thrown out and I think it’s also important to remember that when we look at 10 per cent of Nova Scotians who don’t have access to a doctor that’s taking it across the whole province, so people in (Halifax Regional Municipality) may have more accessibility to doctors than other people but if you’re living in rural areas that statistic is far worse.

“The reason why people want the premier to say there’s a crisis is really they just want to hear the premier say that he gets it and he can say that when he meets with Inez. That’s his opportunity and I hope he takes it.”

            - Mary Jane Hampton, Nova Scotia health-care consultant

“If we have a public heath-care system are we happy with one in 10 of us not being able to access the system? This is really where this sparks a lot of attention and why so many people have responded to Ms. Rudderham’s video.”

The premier now has an opportunity to not only give Rudderham reassurance but also to the entire province, says Mary Jane Hampton, a Nova Scotia health-care consultant.

“I think that if Inez became the face of collective fear and exasperation about where a lot of people are feeling the health-care system has come to, I think we’re all looking to the premier to be the face of kindness and to give us a collective word of reassurance that we will figure out how to make this OK,” said Hampton.

Since Rudderham’s video emerged many others have called on the premier to admit the province faces a health crisis. What they’re really after is empathy and leadership from the premier, says Hampton.

“The reason why people want the premier to say there’s a crisis is really they just want to hear the premier say that he gets it and he can say that when he meets with Inez. That’s his opportunity and I hope he takes it.”

She says the issues are much bigger than just the premier but he’s facing a potential tipping point.

“If that’s the moment of time that Inez has brought us to and depending on how the the premier responds then I think we may have come to a really, really important and productive tipping point in what we need to do together for health care.”

Meantime, a health-care protest is being planned in Halifax on Friday afternoon. The rally, which is expected to draw about 40 people in front of Health Minister Randy Delorey’s office, is being put on by members of the Facebook group, Nova Scotia Health Care In Crisis Time to Protest.

Leslie Tilley, the group’s founder, says it will be one of many planned in the coming months.

“We’re in a state of emergency and we want the premier and our health minister to admit it,” said Tilley. “We’re not getting the health care we deserve and we’re not tolerating it any more.”

The Aylesford resident says her doctor is one of six in Kings County retiring by June.

“It’s such a serious situation and we’re hoping that more and more people will join us in our fight to get adequate access to health care in this province.”

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