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Health and Community Services
September 21, 2009

Minister Releases Additional Information and Provides Update on Assessment

The Department of Health and Community Services released additional information from the regional health authorities regarding proposed budget adjustment initiatives and provided an update on the status of new laboratory and X-ray equipment in the province.

�Today, I am releasing the letters provided by the three other health authorities and the email from the department in which the info was requested,� said the Honourable Paul Oram, Minister of Health and Community Services. �Each year the regional health authorities submit information for consideration by the department. I would like to reassure the general public that government is not considering the other cost saving options at this time.�

On August 31 the Provincial Government announced an assessment of all laboratory and X-ray services in the province. While this review is on-going, all procurements will be put on hold. The assessment process is expected to be complete by late October.

�Our government works to balance quality with long-term sustainability. And, sometimes this means that we need to realign services to find this balance,� said Minister Oram. �Our government faces a difficult decision to make regarding the types of services we can offer in the long-term, how much we can continue to invest as a province and identifying how we can improve the quality in our programs and services across the province.�

Budget 2009: Building on Our Strong Foundation provides an unprecedented investment for health and community services of $2.6 billion which includes increases for annualization, infrastructure, prescription drugs, long-term care, equipment, salaries and wages. To put this amount of money in perspective, government spends $7 million per day or $300,000 per hour. The Provincial Government spends more per capita on healthcare than any other province.

Since 2003, the Provincial Government has invested more than $200 million in new medical equipment across the province and increased the overall budget by a billion dollars; $105 million has been invested for repairs and maintenance to healthcare facilities; approximately $18 million has been provided for mental health and addictions services and in the past two years has invested more than $75 million to further enhance laboratory services, cancer care and health information management in the province. Government is also investing in rural Newfoundland and Labrador like never before. In fact, more than 80 per cent of government infrastructure expenditures have been in rural Newfoundland and Labrador since forming government in 2003. The province has the highest number of nurses per capita, the highest number of doctors in our history as well we have more dialysis stations per capita than any other province.

�While our investments are significant and important to the quality and accessibility of care, this rate of increased investment is not sustainable over the long term,� said Minister Oram. �Our government is working to ensure rural healthcare services are sustainable so we never go back to the previous ways of unsustainability. It is important for us to make the right decisions today to ensure a strong future for our healthcare system.�

Copies of the regional health information are below:

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

2009 09 21                                 3:30 p.m.

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