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Executive Council
Health and Community Services
May 5, 2010

Provincial Government Launches Health Care Public Awareness Campaign

Today, the Provincial Government unveiled a public awareness campaign aimed at providing information on physician recruitment and the offer currently on the table for the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA).

"Over the past few weeks, the NLMA has undertaken a series of information sessions and a public relations exercise as a negotiating tactic," said the Honourable Tom Marshall, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. "As a government, it is our responsibility to provide facts to our residents of this province so they have a complete understanding of how their tax dollars are spent and what our government is prepared to offer physicians in compensation and benefits."

The Provincial Government has put forward an offer worth an additional $79 million to the 1,075 physicians in the province. This offer represents a 24 per cent increase, bringing the total annual compensation package to approximately $408 million. This generous offer adds to significant investments already being made by the Williams Government in the province's health care sector, with a record investment of $2.7 billion in Budget 2010: The Right Investments - For Our Children and Our Future. Healthcare spending by the Provincial Government has increased by over $1 billion in the past 10 years.

"Right now in our province's history we have more physicians employed than ever before, and we are making the right investments to keep our trained professionals in this province," said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services. "Since 2003, we have seen an 18 per cent increase in the number of physicians practicing in Newfoundland and Labrador. That represents 161 new doctors working in this province. In fact, over the past six months alone, we've attracted 33 more doctors. We now have a total number of 1,075 general practitioners and specialists. We are proving that, despite what some may have us believe, we are attracting and retaining qualified physicians to enhance the quality of health care for all residents."

Minister Kennedy noted that there is a huge increase in interest and success with various provincial bursary programs for family practice, specialists and psychiatry. Since 2004, the Provincial Government has awarded 299 bursaries, each with a one-year return-in-service commitment, to 177 Memorial University medical school applicants. This represents an investment of almost $7 million. Included in the graduating groups this year will be 28 physicians who have bursaries with the Provincial Government and return-in-service commitments.

Additionally, in 2009, 14 of 17 family practice residents who commenced practice were recruited, all with bursaries and return-in-service commitments. Last year, 17 of 25 specialty residents who commenced practice were also recruited, nine of whom had bursaries with return-in-service commitments.

"We have a generous offer on the table for the doctors of this province," said Minister Marshall. "I can't recall a set of negotiations where the representative organization is not prepared to sit down and work through the issues to get a deal. In the past year and a half, the Provincial Government has successfully negotiated in excess of 30 collective agreements with groups. There were challenges with these negotiations but in the end an agreement was reached because both sides were willing to sit at the table. Agreements aren't reached by pushing paper back and forth. The NLMA has a responsibility to the people of the province to come back to the table. It's time to start talking."

For a copy of the health care awareness ads, go to:

- 30 -

Media contacts:

Ronalda Walsh
Director of Communications
Department of Finance
709-729-6830, 685-1741
Jennifer Tulk
Communications Manager
Department of Health and Community
709-729-1399, 699-6524

2010 05 05                            10:10 a.m.

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