Dwight Ball rolls out second of five Liberal planks: Improving Health and Healthcare

For Immediate Release
November 9, 2015

(Grand Falls-Windsor) – Today Liberal Leader Dwight Ball was joined by Liberal candidates Al Hawkins, John Haggie, Jerry Dean, Derek Bennett, and Liberal MP Scott Simms as he rolled out the party’s second of five platform planks: Improving Health and Healthcare.

“The people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve a government whose focus is on creating a healthcare system that not only provides the best value, but also the best care,” said Ball. “Our healthcare system must evolve to address the challenges of a rapidly-aging population, as well as the fiscal realities of providing services throughout our large and sparsely populated province.”

The Liberal Five Point Plan will focus on: restoring openness, transparency and accountability; building a stronger, smarter economy; improving health and health care; supporting safe and sustainable communities; and investing in our future through education.

Ball said his team has the depth and breadth of experience to take on the serious issues in health and healthcare, and represent all parts of the province, both urban and rural.

“Accounting for almost 40 cents of every dollar, we have some of the highest costs and some of the worst outcomes,” said Ball. “We need to take a better approach to managing and delivering healthcare in our province.”

A new Liberal government will take the following actions to improve the health and well-being of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians:

Focus on Primary Health Care.

Improving health outcomes in our province starts with embracing an inclusive concept of health. It requires a greater focus on primary healthcare and a service delivery model to support it. Effective primary healthcare is an integrated and inter-disciplinary based approach to health promotion and chronic disease management where primary healthcare responds to the complexity of people’s lives with teams of health professionals.

A new Liberal government will work with primary healthcare stakeholders to develop regional primary healthcare teams.

An efficient and innovative primary healthcare approach in Newfoundland and Labrador will help maximize health care dollars; address recruitment and retention in more rural and remote regions, and improve health outcomes, resulting in a healthier population.

Review current health outcomes for future improvements.

Better management of the province’s healthcare system will allow us to achieve the greatest value while also improving outcomes. This requires having the best information and health analysis available to guide evidence-based decision making.

A new Liberal government will conduct a thorough review of health outcomes in all areas of the province’s health system and set measurable goals for improvements in the future.

In consultation with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, we will provide support to the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information to complete the electronic health record system and provide support to expand data collection and analysis of the healthcare system and identify new health information systems to improve patient care.

Liberals will also support a cardiovascular centre of excellence.

Promote health and healthy living.

Newfoundland and Labrador has some of the highest rates of chronic disease and mortality, including lung cancer, diabetes, respiratory disease, and circulatory disease. Contributing to these poor outcomes is the province’s poor track record on rates of smoking, physical inactivity and lifestyle choices.

A new Liberal government will work to lower the rate of chronic diseases through a health promotion and healthy living strategy. This will include investment in health promotion, healthy living programs, and early intervention. In turn, this will reduce acute healthcare costs in the long-term resulting in a healthier population.

Understanding that a healthy population is in everyone’s best interest, a new Liberal government will ensure people have access to the programs and tools needed, especially at the community level, to facilitate healthier lifestyles. This will focus on two key areas:

A chronic disease prevention and management program, to enhance early detection and screening, as well as treatment by primary healthcare teams working on the front lines of chronic disease management, including: a Diabetes Prevention and Management Program within regional health authorities and their primary healthcare teams; implementation of a province-wide Diabetes Database to enable tracking of up-to-date health statistics and evidence-based decision making; promotion of healthy eating habits through a combination of awareness campaigns and community outreach; and improved diagnostic services and timelines to reduce wait-lists for detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.

The strategy will also include an innovative Youth Wellness Program to establish health risk assessments and wellness coaching in schools, starting in Kindergarten that will: empower schools to be available for after-school physical education programming; provide support to children with autism beyond Grade 3 through Applied Behaviour Analysis; see implementation of an anti-smoking program, including support for organizations that offer smoking cessation programs; and regional adolescent health clinics that offer preventative care services, testing for sexually transmitted infections, treatment for acute health issues, and counselling.

Allow health professionals to work to their full scope of practice.

This provides an innovative opportunity to increase access to care and benefit patients and it improves the management of services and use of resources. A new Liberal government will conduct a thorough review of all legislation and regulations covering health professionals to identify ways to allow health care professionals to work to their full scope of practice.

Changes resulting from this review will streamline primary care, improve patient care, and build a more efficient system.

Implement regulated midwifery.

Around the world, midwives are recognized as experts in normal birth, and serve an integral role in the public healthcare systems of seven provinces and two territories. The implementation of regulated midwifery has the potential to improve maternal health access and outcomes while optimizing the team of healthcare professionals.

A new Liberal government will work with midwives and other health professionals to implement regulated midwifery in the province.

Expand senior care.

By 2025, one in four Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will be seniors. Liberals understand the challenges our province faces with a rapidly aging population, and the party has a plan to prepare for the demographic change.

Through smarter spending and sustainable investments, Liberals will provide the best care possible for our seniors and respect their independence. A new Liberal government will introduce legislation to create a Seniors’ Advocate Office and implement a Dementia Management Program.

They’ll provide supports to help seniors stay healthy and in their homes and their communities longer through: healthy living assessments; a home support program that is flexible and responsive; regular access to a wide-range of healthcare professionals through homecare and home support programs; more support for low income seniors through Newfoundland and Labrador Housing program; improved transportation options and a more modern Medical Transportation Assistance Program.

Strengthen mental health and addictions care.

One in five people in Newfoundland and Labrador experience a mental health or addictions issue in any given year. Liberals believe mental health is as important as physical health.

As part of that commitment, under a new Liberal government, the replacement of the Waterford Hospital will happen without delay. We will ensure those affected by mental health and addictions challenges get the respect, support and services they need in a modern treatment setting.

A new Liberal government will show true leadership on this important issue by implementing a comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.

Raise greater awareness around mental health.

The Liberal Party was instrumental in implementing the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, and will ensure the work of the committee continues. Liberals ensured a more coordinated, integrated and responsive approach across government departments and agencies when addressing mental health and addictions needs.

The Liberal Party will review all relevant mental health legislation to ensure the province is keeping pace with emerging best practices.

A new Liberal government will strengthen provincial policies to show the importance placed on mental health within Newfoundland and Labrador’s health care system; and work in consultation with stakeholders to establish an adult inpatient unit for the treatment of eating disorders.

We will enhance community support by working with community partners and schools to ensure coordinated and seamless approaches to mental health and addictions, and add to the province’s high school curriculum to include a mental health and addictions course tailored to meet the needs of students and raise awareness about mental health and addictions.

Liberals will encourage and support employers around the province to assist employees who are coping with mental health and addictions issues.

Improve healthcare infrastructure.

Improving healthcare infrastructure plays an important role in strengthening the efficient delivery of quality care within the healthcare system. Facilities that are outdated and lack the capacity to meet growing healthcare needs can impede the progress of healthcare delivery.

A new Liberal government will make infrastructure investments that give us the best value for our healthcare spending, and enable us to provide the best healthcare possible in all areas of the province.

Based on consultation with healthcare providers, patients’ representatives, and residents, Liberals are committed to two major infrastructure projects.

The replacement of the Waterford Hospital is critical to advancing mental healthcare in the province. Opened in 1854, the hospital is outdated and can no longer provide the care that people need and deserve.

The Conservative government decided to indefinitely postpone this much-needed replacement.

But Liberals recognize a modern facility designed to facilitate a recovery model of care is needed now.

Liberals are committed to an open, well-planned, well-executed approach to achieve the best value for construction of the new mental health facility. In 2016, planning and scope of work will be defined so construction can begin in 2017, taking advantage of the available local skilled workforce that will be finishing work on large projects at that time, as well as low interest rates.

Liberals believe people in Western Newfoundland have waited too long for a new hospital. The Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook is an outdated facility serving 82,000 people.

Despite the promise of a new hospital since 2007 by the current government, there has been very little movement on the project.

A new Liberal government will make the replacement of the Western Memorial Regional Hospital a priority.

“This election is not only about leadership, it’s about people and their well-being,” said Ball in his concluding remarks. “And the people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve a government who can provide stronger leadership, and better management of healthcare and all issues.



Media contact:

Nancy O’Connor