Media Release: NSGEU calls for release of Code Census data, McNeil hiding health care crisis

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has a responsibility to release Code Census data that highlights the crisis taking place at the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department and puts patients and workers at risk says NSGEU President Jason MacLean.

“Stephen McNeil keeps denying the crisis in health care and the NSHA has information that shows just how bad things are but won’t release it,” says MacLean. “People have a right to know what’s happening in their EDs and as long as key data is withheld McNeil is allowed to bury his head in the sand and deny what every nurse, health care worker and patient knows – there is a crisis in health care.”

NSGEU members have reported to the Union that they can no longer call Code Census. Code Census happens when the emergency department is so overcrowded it is deemed unsafe. Staff in other departments then have 30 minutes to prepare to accept more patients in order to free up beds in emergency.

In 2016, there were 146 Code Census calls. In January 2017, there were 23 Code Census calls and 30 in total between February and March. The NSGEU can only confirm two Code Census calls between June and September, 2017. The information can be found in Code Crisis, a new report released today by the NSGEU. The report can be found at by clicking here..

“NSGEU health care workers and nurses are telling us this is the worst crisis they’ve seen in over 20 years and now they are saying they are not allowed to call Code Census. The NSGEU is worried that this could be seen as an attempt to disguise the growing problems in emergency departments and shield McNeil from public accountability,” says MacLean.

When the NSGEU requested data on how often the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department reached the criteria that would previously have prompted a Code Census call, the NSHA did not respond with that specific information. The NSHA did share a lot of information during this collaboration and are working hard to address identified problems in health care. The NSHA did say that changes to the hospitals overcapacity policy puts the emphasis on pulling patients out of the emergency to inpatient floors versus having patients pushed out of emergency.

“The problem is that the emergency department is routinely over capacity and by refusing to release the data it gives Stephen McNeil cover to ignore the crisis. I’m calling on McNeil to tell the NSHA to release the Code Census data and stop denying the crisis in health care – for a government who claims to be open and transparent, this should be an easy recommendation to action.”


The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 30,000 women and men who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.

For more information, please contact:

Lucas Wide

NSGEU Communications Officer

902-424-4063 (office) 877-556.7438 (toll free)

902-497-5010 (mobile)

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