Health spending up 10 per cent in Bud­get 2010

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH - BY BARB SWEET

The prov­ince is spending $2.7 bil­lion on health care in fis­cal 2010-11 - a 10 per cent in­crease from last year - it was an­nounced in last week’s bud­get.

The spending rep­re­sents more than a third of the pro­vin­cial goven­ment’s to­tal $7 bil­lion bud­get.

Much of the health spending has been an­nounced be­fore, but that didn’t stop the praise of many of those who work in health or ad­vo­cate for health mea­sures.

Among the spending is $208.9 mil­lion for health care in­fra­struc­ture - $125.1 mil­lion for new construction and re­de­vel­op­ment of build­ings, $31.6 mil­lion for ren­o­va­tions and re­pairs of health care fa­cil­i­ties and $52.2 mil­lion for new med­i­cal equip­ment.

“It’s en­cour­ag­ing to see gov­ern­ment still in­vest­ing in health,” said Debbie For­ward, pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador Nurses Union.

Among the high­lights for For­ward were the ad­di­tion of some nurse prac­ti­tioner ser­vices in the prov­ince, neona­tal nurses for the Janeway ICU and dial­y­sis ser­vices for Labrador City and Port aux Basques.

She praised gov­ern­ment for tak­ing steps to­ward re­duc­ing wait­ing times with fund­ing for me­dial equip­ment and other health in­fra­struc­ture spending.

“All th­ese things should help im­prove the health sta­tus of the peo­ple of the prov­ince,” For­ward said.

Nurses didn’t get a pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment fund on their wish list, but she said they will con­tinue to pur­sue that.

The As­so­ci­a­tion of Reg­is­tered Nurses of New­found­land and Labrador, which li­censes nurses, also praised spending on the nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, health and well­ness ini­tia­tives, long-term care and breast feed­ing.

“Over­all, Bud­get 2010 in­di­cates that gov­ern­ment re­mains com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing an ac­ces­si­ble and sus­tain­able health care sys­tem that meets the needs of peo­ple in the prov­ince,” said ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Pegi Earle.

Not every­one thought the bud­get went far enough for their cause.

Per­sonal care homes will get an in­crease in their monthly op­er­at­ing sub­sidy from $1,644 to $1,717, a to­tal of $73 dol­lars a res­i­dent per month.

Shaun Lane is the pres­i­dent of the Per­sonal Care Home As­so­ci­a­tion of New­found­land and Labrador.

“ We’re happy to see an in­crease,” Lane told Transcontinental Me­dia. “How­ever the in­crease still does not even cover the leg­is­lated min­i­mum wage in­crease this gov­ern­ment has in­flicted upon smaller busi­nesses.”

Carol Fur­long, pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador As­so­ci­a­tion of Pub­lic and Pri­vate Em­ploy­ees (NAPE) and pro­vin­cial Fed­er­a­tion of Labour pres­i­dent Lana Payne both said one glar­ing omis­sion in the bud­get was a longterm plan for the home care sec­tor.

“ We need to have some­thing to deal with that whole is­sue of re­cruit- ment and re­ten­tion of the in­dus­try,” Fur­long said.

The one men­tion of home sup­port work­ers is that they would get a 75 cent an hour raise start­ing July 1.

East­ern Health CEO Vickie Kamin­ski said there are lots of equip­ment and cap­i­tal projects for her or­ga­ni­za­tion. An ex­pan­sion of the neo natal in­ten­sive care unit will ad­dress an is­sue for the au­thor­ity, as will the in­crease of op­er­at­ing room ca­pac­ity.

“I need to look at it in de­tail, but it’s a very good bud­get for us,” Kamin­ski said.

Dr. Pradip Gan­guly, chief of ra­di­a­tion on­col­ogy with East­ern Health, also took in last Mon­day’s bud­get.

“Health­care wise it was an ex­cit­ing bud­get,” Gan­guly said.

“One of my pet projects is the ( positron emis­sion to­mog­ra­phy) PET scan and I’m very happy that’s mov­ing along very quickly.” He also lauded the $800,000 to con­tinue the hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV) for young women, a pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure for cer­vi­cal can­cer.

Scott Antle, act­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety, New­found­land Divi­sion, praised the in­crease in to­bacco tax by one cent a cig­a­rette in hopes it will de­ter smokers.

The can­cer so­ci­ety is also glad there is con­tin­ued con­cen­tra­tion on im­ple­ment­ing the Cameron In­quiry re­port, which re­sulted from a scan­dal in­volv­ing lab er­rors in test­ing to de­ter­mine breast can­cer treat­ment.

Broad­en­ing the num­ber of drugs cov­ered in the pro­vin­cial drug plan is also an­other pro­gres­sive step, Antle said.

But a small step was the in­crease in the med­i­cal trans­porta­tion as­sis­tance pro­gram.

“ Trans­porta­tion and ac­com­mo­da­tions play a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact for some peo­ple on their can­cer bur­den,” Antle said.

The New­found­land and Labrador Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion did not com­ment on the bud­get.

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