Health and Community Services
Tourism, Culture and Recreation
March 29, 2010

Budget 2010: The Right Investments to Strengthen Provincial Healthcare

The Williams Government continues to make significant investments in the health care system throughout Newfoundland and Labrador with a record investment of $2.7 billion in Budget 2010.

"We recognize that health care affects each and every individual in our province and we will ensure that our investments result in improving the health care system for all of us who use it," said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services. "We are listening to the needs of people who require the programs and services the most, and our government is responding to those needs with strategic investments in Budget 2010."

Improving Access to Health Care Services and Reducing Wait Times
Budget 2010 includes investments in health care that will improve access to health care services by reducing wait times for services, including diagnostic procedures.

Budget 2010 will provide $797,700 for an expansion of the coverage for the current insulin pump therapy program, to include adults from the ages of 18 to 25 years old. There are approximately 450 diabetics using insulin pump therapy throughout the province. Previously, the Provincial Government provided funding for children up to the age of 18 years.

"This government is committed to continuing to invest in the health and well being of all our residents, especially our children and young adults," said Minister Kennedy. "This funding will help us build on the success of the current program and expand it to reach more residents who depend on insulin pump therapy."

Other investments include:

  • $1.2 million to enhance surgical services at Western Memorial Hospital;
  • $1.1 million to decrease wait time for surgery by increasing the number of operating rooms in the Eastern Health region;
  • $413,000 to enhance hyperbaric medicine at the Health Sciences Centre;
  • $348,400 to help reduce CT services wait times in St. John's;
  • $366,600 to operate MRI services in Central Newfoundland;
  • $150,200 for speech language pathology at the Dr. G.B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville and for preschool children in the rural Avalon region;
  • $114,400 to enhance services for patients with cystic fibrosis, including a physiotherapist to support the Adult Medicine Program and funding for nurse practitioner services;
  • $110,100 to improve physiotherapy services in Grand Bank;
  • $89,500 for respiratory therapy services at the Captain William Jackman Hospital in Labrador City; and,
  • $80,000 for community occupational therapy services to enhance safety, independence and quality of life for clients serviced by Central Health.

Strengthening Mental Health and Addictions Services
Through Budget 2010, the Williams Government will continue to ensure that those individuals who live with mental illness or addiction issues have treatment options available to them.

Budget 2010 provides $2 million for the planning and development of an adult residential addictions treatment centre in Harbour Grace. The new treatment centre will help meet the needs of individuals who require longer-term residential treatment or those that have more severe, persistent addiction issues. The new centre will complement the Humberwood Treatment Centre in Corner Brook, which provides short-term treatment.

Other investments include:

  • $482,900 to enhance child psychiatry services at the Janeway Hospital;
  • A new psychologist to enhance the eating disorders treatment program at Eastern Health;
  • $2.4 million for continued planning and construction of a new residential treatment centre for children and youth with complex mental health needs and/or behavioral issues to be located in St. John's;
  • $2 million to further a new residential treatment centre in Grand Falls-Windsor for children and youth with addictions; and,
  • $300,000 to support new community-based projects, with a focus on mental health and addictions issues, among other areas.

Improving Access to Rural Health Care Services
Ensuring that health care programs and services are available close to home for residents living in rural Newfoundland and Labrador continues to be a priority for the Provincial Government.

In addition to other investments outlined, highlights of investments in health care include $606,000 to enhance the Medical Transportation Assistance Program (MTAP). The funding will allow for reimbursement of mileage at a rate of $0.16 per kilometre for use of private vehicles when eligible medical travel exceeds 5,000 kilometres within a 12-month period. The enhancements to MTAP will be implemented October 1, 2010. MTAP is designed to help residents who incur substantial costs when travelling for insured specialized services not available in their region and/or within the province. This funding will further help families who incur significant medical travel expenses when travelling for insured specialized medical or hospital services.

The Provincial Government will also invest $1.1 million to establish two new satellite dialysis units, one for Port aux Basques and the other for Labrador West. These units will help reduce the travel and improve the quality of life of patients who will be able to receive dialysis closer to home.

Other investments include:

  • $700,000, with an annual cost of $1.1 million, to support the implementation of a second medical flight specialist team to be located in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, as announced on March 25;
  • $101,000 to increase ambulance staffing levels in the Western region to ensure the current service meets provincial standards and that patients have access to quality service providers when needed. Two new positions will be created;
  • $500,000 for the planning, design and redevelopment of a new primary health care centre to enhance accessibility and sustainability of services for approximately 3,200 residents living in the area north of Marystown on the Burin Peninsula;
  • $300,000 to hire diabetic education staff in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish, as well as in Flower's Cove, Roddickton, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Southern Labrador.
  • $137,400 to hire three licensed practical nurses to work in St. Anthony, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador West;
  • $430,000 for the Transition House Program in Nain and Rigolet, which offers safe refuge to women and their children escaping violence. Government will invest an additional $200,000 to support a pilot project to review safety and security issues within transition houses throughout the province; and,
  • The creation of a new position of Aboriginal Health Liaison, who will work with other Provincial Government departments, Aboriginal governments and organizations in the province to facilitate the development of a holistic and collaborative Provincial Aboriginal Health Policy Framework.

For the Health of Our Children and Youth
Budget 2010 will continue to promote Provincial Wellness Plan throughout communities in the province. This includes an additional $200,000 to increase grants to community-based agencies under the Provincial Wellness Grants Program, with a specific focus on increasing opportunities for children to be physically active and improving access to recreation facilities and services. This brings the total budget for provincial wellness grants, which are based on the selection of proposals through an application process, to $700,000.

Examples of other investments include:

  • $800,000 to continue funding the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunization program for adolescent females;
  • $246,000 for the addition of four nurses to ensure patient safety and quality of care in Neonatal Intensive Care and prevent diversions out of the province; and,
  • $159,000 to support provincial breastfeeding initiatives as outlined in the Breastfeeding Strategic Plan.

Budget 2010 also builds on investments made to support increased participation in physical activity, athlete development, and improved infrastructure, since the release of the province's recreation and sport strategy, Active, Healthy Newfoundland and Labrador (2007).

"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador recognizes that all of our citizens, particularly our children and youth, must be given the opportunity to avail of programs and services which encourage healthier, more active lifestyles," said the Honourable Terry French, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. "This year's budget provides support for community-based after school programs, the development of athletic talent, and further funding for recreation and sport infrastructure — all of which are designed to promote health and wellness among our population."

Through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Budget 2010 provides approximately $1.2 million for new recreation and sport initiatives, as well as improvements and extensions to existing programming.

Key investments include:

  • $200,000 for community-based after school programs, which provide opportunities for children and youth to become more physically active during this critical part of their day;
  • $350,000 in additional support to the Newfoundland and Labrador Games and Canada Games programs, the primary gateways to the development of exceptional athletes in this province;
  • $300,000 in additional grants for community sports facilities, bringing the total annual budget under the Community Capital Grants Program to $1.3 million;
  • $150,000 to lease space for provincial recreation and sport organizations, which deliver programs and services on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • $131,000 to assist organizations to develop and implement programs and services to advance physical activity and support healthy eating, provided as part of a Physical Activity/Healthy Eating bilateral agreement which leverages matching federal funds; and,
  • $50,000 to the Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Circle to implement programs and services designed to increase physical activity and athlete development opportunities for Aboriginal peoples. The funding is provided through an Aboriginal Sport and Recreation bilateral agreement, which leverages matching federal funds.

"Since the introduction of Active, Healthy Newfoundland and Labrador, the Provincial Government has invested more than $62 million in recreation and sport infrastructure and $8.8 million on programs and services to support athlete development. We have also been introducing new recreation programs and services designed to target under-represented groups such as seniors, women and girls, and Aboriginal groups," said Minister French. "This is all part of our concerted effort to provide more opportunities for all our citizens to become more physically active, to develop and nurture competitive athletes, and to build a population which incorporates physical fitness and healthy choices into their day-to-day lives."

Improving Access to Cancer Care
Cancer care will continued to be enhanced throughout the province as a result of investments in Budget 2010. This includes the creation of a new Provincial Colorectal Cancer Screening Program, which was announced on March 19.

Other investments include:

  • $5 million to continue implementing the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing Report;
  • $3.2 million to cover the cost of 10 new drug therapies under the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program, including cancer drugs;
  • $197,000 in operational funding for a radiopharmacist and a program director to begin planning for the new Positron Emissions Tomography (PET) scanner at Eastern Health; and,
  • $119,800 to enhance an accredited stem cell transplant program for patients in the province.

Investing in Health Care Infrastructure
The Williams Government continues to make strategic investments in health care infrastructure throughout the province. Budget 2010 provides a total of $208.9 million for health care infrastructure, which includes investments in new construction, redevelopment of existing facilities, purchase of new medical equipment and repairs and maintenance.

Investments in new construction and redevelopment total $125.1 million and include:

  • $7.9 million for redevelopment of the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor, with a total project cost estimated at approximately $30 million;
  • $11.8 million for continued construction of a new hospital in Corner Brook;
  • $9 million for the continued construction of a new regional hospital in Labrador West;
  • $7.9 million for continued construction of the Newfoundland and Labrador Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Genetics in St. John's;
  • $6.3 million for site preparation for the installation of a new Positron Emission Tomography scanner (PET) in St. John's;
  • $5 million to start construction of a new health care clinic in Flower's Cove; and,
  • $3.2 million for the on-going redevelopment of the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander.

Budget 2010 will provide $52.2 million for new equipment throughout the province, including:

  • $4.4 million for a new MRI machine at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital;
  • $3.5 million for the replacement of CT scanners at the Carbonear General Hospital and the Janeway Children's Health and Rehabilitation Centre;
  • Approximately $3 million for the purchase of new laboratory equipment around the province;
  • $2.7 million for the provincial cardiac care program; and,
  • $2.1 million for the purchase of new ultrasound machines around the province.

Approximately $31.6 million will be allocated for repairs and renovations of existing health care facilities throughout the province.

"The provision of quality health care for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador remains a priority for our government," said Minister Kennedy. "We have made the right investments in Budget 2010 to enhance the health and well-being of all residents of the province."

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Media contacts:

Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Department of Health and
Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-2646
Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
709-729-0928, 697-5061

2010 03 29                                                        2:20 p.m.

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