FREDERICTON (GNB) – Premier Brian Gallant outlined over $25 million in new targeted investments to fund a multi-year plan to reduce wait times in New Brunswick’s health-care system.

“Your government understands how important access to health care is for New Brunswickers,” said Gallant. “The availability and delivery of health-care services has a significant impact on the quality of life of our residents and, in turn, on our economy. This is why we are investing in our multi-year plan to reduce wait times in health care.”

As part of the provincial budget, the government will invest in several initiatives to help reduce wait times. These measures aim to result in:

Improved accessibility

  • The hiring of new family physicians and specialists to increase access to primary health care.
  • An increased number of nurse practitioners to increase access to primary health care.
  • The introduction of eConsult, a new form of electronic consultation between primary care providers and medical specialists.
  • The establishment of two new autism centres in New Brunswick.

Improved quality

  • An accelerated adoption of electronic medical records to improve the health status of New Brunswickers and position the province as a leader in electronic medical records in Canada.
  • An enhancement of the diabetes strategy to improve the quality of life of those living with diabetes.
  • An enhancement to addiction and mental health services for New Brunswickers.
  • The creation of a new program for social pediatrics.
  • The addition of more than 1,000 new nursing home beds and memory care beds across the province.

Increased proactivity

  • The hiring of additional resources to support suicide prevention and health promotion.
  • The implementation of a provincial dementia strategy.
  • The implementation of the colon cancer screening program to reach all men and women between the ages of 50 and 74.
  • The establishment of a pilot project to free up acute-care beds by providing transition beds in special care homes for short-term patient stays and reduce wait times for hip and knee replacements.

“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction”, said Dr. Édouard Hendriks, vice-president of medical, academic and research affairs at Horizon Health Network. “This plan provides us with the parameters to deliver quality care across the province.”

The Department of Health’s budget increased by 3.7 per cent, bringing it up to $2.75 billion for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The department’s budget has increased 9.8 per cent since 2014-15.

This funding will support the provincial government’s priorities as set out in the New Brunswick Family Plan‎, which aims to improve the health of all New Brunswickers. It also aligns with objectives set out in the Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities, which was endorsed by federal, provincial and territorial governments in August.