Health and Community Services
April 26, 2007

Promoting a Healthy Society

Over the last three and a half years, the Williams Government has made strategic investments to improve the overall health and well-being of the population. Through a continued focus on health promotion, prevention and improving access to health and community services, the Provincial Government is working to promote a healthy society for all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. The overall budget for health and community services is $2.2 billion, representing a 10.3 per cent increase over last year.

"Budget 2007 demonstrates government�s continued commitment to improve health and community-based services through a focus on our province�s children, improving access to health care services and strengthening mental health and addictions," said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services. "Given the vast geography of our province and our disbursed population, our challenge is always to provide timely access to health care services as close to a resident�s home as possible. It is with this in mind that we have once again enhanced and strengthened health care services in all regions of our province."

Investing in Our Province�s Children

Many different factors affect a child�s health and well-being, including economic and social conditions, along with the need for a safe and protective environment. Addressing children�s issues is a priority for the Provincial Government.

Through an investment of almost $6.5 million this year, and over $9 million annualized, the Provincial Government will strengthen the Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) system by:

  • Targeting professional development and training, including the development of a new orientation program for social workers;
  • Adding new positions to the system, including social workers and support staff;
  • Hiring additional lawyers to support the legal requirements of CYFS;
  • Undertaking the necessary legislation, program and policy reviews;
  • Implementing operational and organizational changes, including improvements to the Client Referral and Management System (CRMS);
  • Introducing quality assurance initiatives; and,
  • Enhancing monitoring, evaluation and planning for system changes for the future to ensure best practices are implemented across the system.
  • There are currently 100 children under the age of 18 who could benefit from the use of insulin pump therapy to effectively manage their diabetes. An additional 30 children are diagnosed annually. Budget 2007 includes almost $1.4 million to provide insulin pumps and supplies for children with Type I diabetes under the age of 18.

    Through an investment of $396,100, the Provincial Government will enhance pre-school therapeutic speech language pathology services, resulting in increased and earlier support to families and improved developmental outcomes for children.

    Vaccines are still the first and best line of defence to reduce the impact of diseases in children. Budget 2007 includes $1.5 million to continue three vaccines to treat pneumonia, meningitis and chicken pox.

    Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador provides programs and services to children with physical disabilities to ensure that youth have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play. Easter Seals House, a new facility to be located in Pippy Park in St. John�s, will provide children with increased opportunities to learn life skills, benefit from new therapies, meet and overcome challenges in a safe and supportive environment and to be themselves. The Provincial Government recognizes the importance of the facility and will invest $175,000 for Easter Seals House, matching the net proceeds from ticket sales at a fundraising event held by Easter Seals earlier this week. These proceeds will assist with the cost of the $2 million project.

    Improving Access to Health Care Servicess

    As a result of past investments in hospital equipment to increase capacity and improved access, the Provincial Government is currently within the national wait-time benchmarks between 80 to 100 per cent of the time. In keeping with its commitment, the Provincial Government will provide $2 million to improve access to health services, including extended hours of operation for the MRI in St. John�s and Corner Brook, improved pre-hospital care in St. John�s, enhanced mammography and CT services in Carbonear, and expanded endoscopy services in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor.

    Through a $22.3 million investment this year for new diagnostic and capital equipment, the Provincial Government will purchase two new linear accelerators for the Dr. H Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre, cardiac cath lab equipment and monitors at the Health Sciences Centre, Bi Planar Angiography machine, and a new X-ray machine for the Carbonear General Hospital. In addition, the Provincial Government will purchase CT Scanners for diagnostic imaging at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook and Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital in Stephenville.

    Approximately $11.5 million will be allocated to the regional health authorities to address utilization pressures and to invest in new initiatives. Highlights of this investment include the establishment of a new medical flight team for the provincial air ambulance service, enhanced social work services on Fogo Island and at the Grand Falls-Windsor dialysis unit, expanded services in Corner Brook for dialysis and stroke care, and an enhanced laboratory service in St. Anthony.

    To support continued improvements in information and communications technology to enhance the delivery of health care services throughout the province, Budget 2007 includes $2.65 million over two years, matched by Canada Health Infoway, to provide telehealth services for chronic disease management. Specific areas to be supported include diabetes management, oncology, mental health, nephrology and neurology. An example of the services to be deployed is the use of video technologies to support satellite dialysis clinics across the province.

    Investing in Infrastructuree

    In recognition of the need to replace or renovate health care infrastructure, the Provincial Government will invest almost $67 million this year for capital projects, including:

  • $3 million for design and site work for a new health centre in Lewisporte;
  • $1.3 million to redesign and redevelop the Forensic Inpatient and Developmentally Delayed units at the Waterford Hospital, St. John�s;
  • $600,000 to begin planning for a new health centre in Flower�s Cove;
  • $23.6 million to continue completion of a new 236-bed long-term care facility and four dementia duplexes with 40-bed capacity in Corner Brook (operational in fall 2009);
  • $14.5 million to continue completion of a new 44-bed long-term care facility in Clarenville (operational in summer 2008);
  • $3 million to begin construction of a new 50-bed long-term care facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay (operational in 2009-10);
  • $4.5 million to begin design and site work for a new 28-bed health centre in Labrador West (operational in spring 2011);
  • $7.2 million to construct a new health centre in Grand Bank and to redevelop the Blue Crest Nursing Home (operational in spring 2008);
  • $3.2 million for construction of a new Provincial Addictions Centre in Corner Brook (operational in summer 2008);
  • $2.6 million for a new office building to be constructed adjacent to the Labrador Health Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay (operational in spring 2008); and,
  • $3.1 million for continued redevelopment of the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander.
  • Budget 2007 includes $637,000 to provide new and effective treatment therapies under the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program. New drugs include Remodulin for the third-line treatment of primary pulmonary hypertension, and Femara and Arimidex for first-line treatment in certain patients with breast cancer.


    Strengthening Mental Health and Addictionss

    The Provincial Government recognizes that a person�s mental health is as important as his/her physical health. To this end, the Provincial Government has invested $5.7 million over the last three years to enhance mental health and addictions services in the province, released a Mental Health and Addictions Policy Framework and ensured passage of a new Mental Health Care and Treatment Act. Budget 2007 includes an additional $1.6 million to strengthen mental health and addictions services in the province. This includes $800,000 to implement the framework for the new Mental Health Care and Treatment Act. Also included is $800,000 to continue with implementation of the Mental Health and Addictions Policy Framework.

    A further $575,000 will be invested to address problem gambling in the province, including enhancement of prevention and treatment services, creation of a public awareness campaign and funding for research.

    There are currently 7,300 residents of Newfoundland and Labrador over the age of 15 who are at risk of developing an eating disorder. Though a new investment of $228,800, the Provincial Government will establish a new Provincial Eating Disorders Program, providing an outpatient day treatment program operating five days a week.

    Valuing Care Providers

    The Provincial Government values the important role that care providers play in delivering health and community services throughout the province. Budget 2007 includes funding to strengthen public health positions, increase the rate paid to foster families and alternate family care givers, and support professional development for nurses in the province.

    "Budget 2006 committed to hiring 39 public health nursing positions over two years to strengthen public health capacity in the province. Approximately $1.6 million has been allocated this year to fund the annualized cost of positions approved last year and to hire the remaining 13 new positions this year, including six in Eastern, three in Central, two in Western and two in Labrador-Grenfell health regions."

    In keeping with the commitment from last year to increase the rate paid to foster families, youth services and children living with relatives, and alternate family care givers by 15 per cent over three years, beginning in April 2006, Budget 2007 includes $936,000 to increase the rate paid by five per cent this year.

    The Provincial Government will cost-share $1 million with regional health authorities to support an eight-week graduate orientation program to support nurses in frontline practice.

    "Through continued strategic investments we will enhance and strengthen our health care system so that we prepare for the coming years, while ensuring it is sustainable well into the future," said Minister Wiseman.

    - 30 -

    Media contact:
    Tansy Mundon
    Director of Communications
    Department of Health and Community Services
    709-729-1377, 685-1741

    2007 04 26                                                    2:15 p.m.

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