December 19, 2017
For Immediate Release

Secrecy Raises Concerns About Liberals’ Health Cutting Agenda

David Brazil, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball government’s secrecy over its health cutting agenda is the reason people are so upset by the Deputy Minister of Health’s recent remarks and the Health Minister’s even-more-worrisome statements about cuts to come.”

Brazil said, “Everyone knows our Health system needs improvements, and our administration was openly engaged with our health care professionals in making that happen, through our collaborative Premier’s Forum on Primary Health Care and our Budget 2015 initiatives on long-term care and more. Since then, our province’s physicians, through the NL Medical Association, have‎ brought together health care professionals from across the spectrum to call for a public review into health reform, to bring the discussion out into the open. The Opposition brought their message to the House of Assembly, but the Health Minister would have none of it. The Liberals rejected the call for an open health review, saying the time for talking has passed. We disagree. The reason people are so worried is that the Liberals have left them out of the conversation.”

“Behind closed doors, the Liberals are making plans to cut health care across this province. That is undeniable. We know from the Deputy Minister’s statement that this is the thinking of the officials the Liberals have brought in to advise them and execute their hidden agenda. We also know from the Health Minister’s own statements that he is concerned about what he describes as the high number of nurses and doctors in this province. The deputy minister mentioned having too many facilities. The Premier is on record affirming the notion that nurses ought to be working harder. This kind of talk really worries people.”

Brazil said, “Health care quality and accessibility is a matter of concern to every person in this province. The discussion about improving the system needs to be open, transparent, collaborative and inclusive. Health care providers – including nurses and physicians – are making it clear that they are deeply concerned about the government’s secretive approach. The Minister seems to believe he has all the answers.”

During debate in the House of Assembly on November 8, 2017 on a resolution‎ calling for an open review of the health care system, the Health Minister stated: “We don’t believe another review is necessary because the time, really, for studies is over and the time for action is now.” He added: “We have a vision, we have a plan and we have action already. We do not need to paralyze this process by going back and reanalyzing stuff that’s been done before. The problem has been, since Romanow, no one has had the intestinal fortitude or the application to actually do what was necessary, even though it stared them in the face. That changed in December of 2015.

‎Brazil said, “What worries people is that the Minister refuses to be open about what he is about to do. He is promising unprecedented action that he says no one else has had the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to do. That is even more worrisome than anything the deputy minister said, because – as the Minister made clear – he and Cabinet are the ones with the power to act. Yet, he refuses to be open and transparent by saying where they plan to cut, and he refuses to work with the health care professionals like nurses and doctors who are worried about the impacts of these cuts on their patients.”

– 30 –

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