Wednesday, June 13, 2012 AT 8:44AM | Posted by: PCNB
REBUILDING HEALTHCARE CONSULTATION by HON. DAVID ALWARD
Mr. Speaker, health care is one of the most visible and important ways that government impacts the lives of New Brunswickers. In fact, Mr. Speaker, our belief in the value and importance of our publicly funded, universal health care system is one of the most important ways we identify ourselves as Canadians.
Our government is committed to protecting New Brunswick’s health-care system. But we are at a tipping point.
New Brunswick’s health care system spends $6,000 per minute, $8 million a day, $3.1 billion a year. More than 40 per cent of the provincial budget is being invested in health care this year and it is rapidly squeezing out our ability to do anything else – invest our roads, promote our province’s economic development, our culture, our ability to protect our natural resources. If we don’t take action, the level of growth will reach 50 per cent of the provincial budget in the not-so-distant future.
Mr. Speaker, New Brunswick’s health care investments have doubled in the past 10 years. The New Brunswick Health Council reports that 93 per cent of us have a family doctor – well above the national average of 86 per cent. You’d think that level of investment would mean we have a healthy population, but we are the unhealthiest province in Canada.
What’s more, our population is rapidly aging. When people retire, their income and tax contributions decline, but they naturally require more health care services. So, right when we need our health care system the most, we’ll be least able to afford it.
Mr. Speaker, while there are problems with our health care system and challenges do lie ahead, the future of health care can be bright; the future of health care can be sustainable; the future of health care can be different.
We can have an enhanced quality of life in this province. To do this, we need to be innovative. We need to have a vision. That vision is the next provincial health plan, Mr. Speaker, and I am pleased to announce today that for the first time ever, New Brunswickers will have a voice in the development of that plan.
Starting next week, the Minister of Health will be conducting public consultations in nine locations, leading to a healthier future for our province. We are past due for an honest discussion about the future of health care, the challenges our system faces and what we value as a population.
I invite the members of this house to join their fellow New Brunswickers in this conversation about the future of health care. It’s time to talk about rebuilding health care together.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.