MONCTON (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $3 million to help reduce the number of people waiting for orthopedic surgery in the Greater Moncton area.

“Your government understands how important access to health care is for New Brunswickers,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Hip and knee joint replacements represent the vast majority of the long-waiting orthopedic surgeries. Reducing the number of people waiting long periods will improve the quality of life of those needing this surgery. It will also avoid added health-care costs by ensuring more timely surgeries, which in turn will reduce the chances of their health deteriorating.”

“Horizon Health Network is pleased with the direction being taken to improve wait times for our patients,” said Dr. Édouard Hendriks, the health authority’s vice-president of medical, academic and research affairs. “We are committed to working together to ensure easier and more timely access to quality care for people awaiting orthopedic surgery.”

Referrals for such surgeries have been increasing, largely due to an aging population, and maintaining reasonable wait times has been a challenge for regional health authorities. Funding will be used to increase surgical capacity at the Moncton Hospital and Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, decreasing the number of patients awaiting surgery. It will also be used to develop a more co-ordinated and integrated approach for consultations with specialists.

“An announcement like today’s reinforces the fact that we continue to contribute to the improvement of the level of health of the population, as mentioned in our 2017-20 strategic plan,” said Gilles Lanteigne, president and CEO of Vitalité Health Network. “The Vitalité Health Network welcomes this great initiative and is confident it will generate a positive impact for all our communities.”

The Department of Health’s budget increased by 3.7 per cent 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.