28 Apr Provincial budget effectively cuts health care funding

The Nova Scotia Health Coalition is concerned that the 2017 Nova Scotia budget is effectively a cut to health care spending in the province.

“The 1.8% increase in funding for health care in this budget fails to keep pace with inflation and is a cut  in real dollars. The money in this budget will pay for less than the money in last year’s budget did,” said Chris Parsons, provincial coordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition. The government’s’ own own budget projections anticipate inflation to rise to 1.9% in 2017 and 2% in 2018.

The Coalition is particularly worried that there is no funding to immediately deal with chronic overcrowding in the province’s emergency rooms, particularly in light of the tragic death of Jack Webb. The 68 year old from Wolfville died after spending five days at the Victoria General Hospital being bumped from room to room and spending time on a gurney in the emergency department’s hallway.

The Coalition is also disappointed about the lack of adequate action on primary care. According to Finance Minister Randy Delorey’s budget address, the province is aiming to recruit 50 primary care doctors to the province each year. On Wednesday, Doctors Nova Scotia told the province’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts that Nova Scotia needs to recruit at least 100 family doctors per year to meet existing and future need.

While the overall reduction of funding is worrisome, there are some bright spots in the budget. The confirmation of previously announced funding for dialysis units will help Nova Scotians access important services in their communities and the province’s ongoing recognition of the importance of collaborative models in the delivery of primary care is heartening, but not enough.

“At a time when emergency care is in crisis and Nova Scotians are struggling to access long-term and primary care in their communities we need to improve the system. Unfortunately, this budget moves us backwards,” Parsons concluded.