Health Care Advocates Urge Premiers to Keep Health Care on the Agenda
MEDIA ADVISORY – Ottawa: Premiers from across Canada are meeting this week in St. Andrews By-The-Sea, New Brunswick for the annual Council of The Federation. While there are a host of pressing issues, healthcare risks getting pushed to the sidelines in favour of other headline-grabbing issues. With all the talk of pipelines, trade and marijuana, it can be easy to forget that public healthcare is at a critical moment in Canada; there is much to discuss and little time to waste. The Canadian Health Coalition, the national advocacy organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing universal healthcare, is calling on Provincial-Territorial Premiers to ‘Keep Health on the Agenda’ and ensure progress is made on key priorities, including pharmacare, keeping healthcare public, addressing the opioïd crisis, and increasing federal funding.
A quick look at some of the pressing issues facing public healthcare in the Atlantic provinces provides a snapshot of what many Canadians are facing from coast to coast to coast:
For profit health care: New Brunswick recently contracted out home care and tele-care services to a private agency, Nova Scotia is considering using private financing to build a new hospital, there is an on-going debate within Newfoundland and Labrador over private cataract surgery clinics, and PEI partnered with a private company to expand its home care services, building on the provinces’ current use of private ambulance services.
Lack of Access to Primary and Emergency Care: New Brunswick recently announced the planned closure of two hospitals, and Nova Scotia just announced that it is permanently closing two emergency rooms in Cape Breton. There are family doctor shortages across the Atlantic provinces, forcing patients to access care through emergency rooms or face long wait times at clinics. Roughly 1 in 10 Nova Scotians do not have a family doctor or primary care nurse practitioner. Nova Scotia‘s emergency rooms were closed for 25,124.5 hours in 2016-2017, the fourth year in a row where that total has increased. A similar trend is taking place in PEI, where a lack of doctors has forced rolling closure of emergency rooms in 2017-2018.
Reduced Federal Funding: The 2017 bilateral funding agreements between the federal government and provinces and territories reduced federal contributions to healthcare, creating a serious funding shortfall over the next 10 years that will only place further strain on provincial health care systems. In the Atlantic provinces, this shortfall will total over $2.5 billion over a ten-year year period, leaving many to wonder how provinces and territories will make-up the difference.
In the face of these challenges and many others, now is the time for bold visions to strengthen and expand public health care, to ensure all residents of Canada have access to a full continuum of care. In particular, with a proposed federal pharmacare plan on the table, provinces and territories have a historic opportunity to be partners in the greatest expansion of public health care since the creation of Medicare.
Canadian Health Coalition Chair, Pauline Worsfold, RN, and Mary Boyd, Chair of the P.E.I. Health Coalition are joining other health care advocates and front-line workers in St. Andrews By-The-Sea to raise these issues, and are available to speak with media.
For more information:
Amelie Baillargeon, Canadian Health Coalition
(613) 983-0665, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Parsons, Nova Scotia Health Coalition
(902) 880-8628, email@example.com
Mary Boyd, PEI Health Coalition