FREDERICTON (GNB) – The 2012-13 budget of the Department of Health is $2.58 billion, up $49 million from the previous year, announced Health Minister Madeleine Dubé.

"Our government is committed to providing New Brunswickers with quality health care and an enhanced quality of life in all regions of the province," said Dubé. "This budget continues to reflect our balanced approach, and it advances our goal of rebuilding New Brunswick by making changes to the culture and structure of government."

This year's budget includes:

●    funding to continue work on the mental-health action plan and the comprehensive diabetes strategy;
●    $2 million for the recruitment of nine new family physicians and one specialist;
●    $5 million for primary health care;
●    $1,750,000 for the implementation of the provincial colon cancer screening program;
●    $650,000 to restore an ambulance stop at the Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus de Caraquet; and
●    an initiative to study the cost-per-weighted case across New Brunswick's hospitals, which is expected to result in efficiencies of $2.5 million.

The department will also invest $49 million in health facilities and equipment, which will include:

●    $27.2 million for equipment and maintenance, including the completion of renovations to the new MRI units in Edmundston, Saint John and Moncton as well as acquisition of, and construction for, two new units, in Miramichi and Bathurst;  
●    $12.8 million for ongoing projects, including the completion of the renovations to the intensive-care unit at the Chaleur Regional Hospital, beginning work at the new Restigouche Hospital Centre and the new power plant building at the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont Hospital; and
●    $9 million for the architectural planning and design of several new projects, including $1.5 million for the breast health centre in Moncton.

The minister indicated the department’s budget includes measures to live within its means, such as an initiative to bring the cost-per-weighted case in hospitals closer to the national average, which is expected to result in efficiencies of $2.5 million.

“To be more efficient, hospitals are being asked to change how they work to reduce these costs, including administrative and management functions,” Dubé said.