April 15, 2002
(Health and Community Services)


The following statement was issued today by Gerald Smith, Minister of Health and Community Services. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada

As honourable members are aware, the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada is in the province today holding public consultations. This morning I had the privilege to present our provinceís submission to Commissioner Roy Romanow and I want to inform honourable members about that presentation.

The submission focused on the themes that increased federal funding and seamless health care are necessary to sustain the health care system in Canada.

We are currently spending 45 cents of every provincial program dollar on health care, and growth of this share would only serve to constrain other important government programs. The Canada Health and Social Transfer, CHST, which is intended to support social programs, remains considerably below funding levels that existed under the previous transfer arrangements. Our submission calls upon the federal government to restore the CHST support, remove the ceiling on equalization payments, and restore the 10 province average equalization standard.

The provinceís submission also suggested that national goals for population health would be useful. One of the fundamental goals of the health system should be to improve the wellness of the population, particularly the need to reduce the risk factors such as smoking, inactivity, and unhealthy eating, which contribute to chronic disease.

The province also supports a coordinated, interdisciplinary approach to primary health care. We need to reform our system so that it takes into account all aspects of a personís health and builds a seamless system. A major part of this reform will be to continue to build teams of professionals who work together in an interdisciplinary environment so that people are no longer receiving fragmented services.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador cannot take sole responsibility for change in the health care system. Cooperation and support is needed from the federal government, particularly in the area of increased funding. We are calling upon the federal government to work in partnership with the provinces and territories to ensure a sustainable health system in the future.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to building on our current strengths to create a better health and community services system for the future. Later this spring, I will unveil a Strategic Health Plan for our province. This plan will put into action the commitment of government to provide quality health and community services to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.

A copy of the provinceís submission to the commission is available on governmentís Web site.

2002 04 15                          2:05 p.m.

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