April 12, 2017
For Immediate Release

Health Budget Fails to Keep Pace with Rising Costs

Steve Kent, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, said the province’s 2017 health budget fails to keep pace with rising costs, just as predicted.

“Canada’s Health Ministers told the Government of Canada last December that, without an increase in health transfers, provincial health funding would not keep pace with the rising costs of providing it. They said funding was needed to increase just to break even. The Ministers made it clear that a 3% increase was not enough. Manitoba’s Health Minister said a minimum increase of 5.2% would be required. The Fraser Institute said cost pressures increase at a rate of between 4.6% and 6.3%. Past governments were increasing health transfers by a rate of 6% to cope with rising costs.

“Unfortunately, this province’s 2017 Budget funding for Provincial Drug Programs, Physicians’ Services, Dental Services, and Regional Health Authorities and Related Services did not increase this year by the amounts that Health Ministers have been telling Ottawa they need,” said Kent.

· If Provincial Drug Programs funding had grown by 6% this year, it would be $151,935,312, but it is actually $139,644,700 – a shortfall of $12,290,612.

· If Physicians’ Services funding had grown by 6%, it would be $504,601,658, but it is actually $497,506,900 – a shortfall of $7,094,758.

· If Dental Services funding had grown by 6%, it would be $518,239,088, but it is actually $508,286,400 – a shortfall of $9,952,688.

· If Regional Health Authorities and Related Services funding had grown by 6%, it would be $2,323,187,478, but it is actually $2,224,823,300 – a shortfall of $98,364,178.

· In those four areas, the shortfall from 6% growth this year is $128,372,236.

Kent said, “If funding fails to keep pace with rising costs, then cuts are inevitable. The Minister of Health is not being forthright with people in disclosing his plan to do more with less. Our government had a plan, which included repurposing health offices, streamlining and partnering. This government refuses to tell people what their plan is. Last year, they downloaded their shortfall on Regional Health Authorities, which cut frontline services, some of which they reinstated under public pressure. It’s a chaotic way to manage a health care system on which so many people rely”.

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications, Office of the Official Opposition (709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca