Mr. Speaker, we must search for new, innovative reforms in health care, social programs, and education. We must invest for the long- term in prevention and early intervention. We must become less institutional, more integrated with the community, and more focused on the individual needs of people.
Mr. Speaker, the federal government must fairly share with the provinces the cost of universal health care. That is why, only days ago in Ottawa, the Newfoundland and Labrador delegation led the charge to increase federal health care funding at the Biennial Convention of the Liberal Party of Canada. A Newfoundland and Labrador resolution was passed that proposed that health care be the highest investment priority for any fiscal dividend from the federal government.
We repeat that call here today. Now that the federal deficit has been eliminated, the first priority of the federal government should be the restoration of health care funding.
In the meantime, we will do everything within our financial power to maintain stable health care funding and make further strategic investments for 1998-99.
Health Care Professionals
Mr. Speaker, we are addressing the shortage of medical professionals in our rural areas. In 1997-98, we:
This year, Mr. Speaker, we are making strategic new investments in institutions and community health, equipment, services and facilities.
Prevention and Early Intervention
Mr. Speaker, to maintain a healthy society, we must provide for appropriate education and services in the community, as well as in our institutions. We are, therefore, increasing the budgets for community health by $2 million.
Managing Our Health Care Dollars
Mr. Speaker, we acknowledge the increasing pressures on the delivery of acute and long-term care. Last summer, we increased funding for health care institutions by an additional $20 million. Today, we are announcing an additional $10 million for our health care institutions. This means there will be an additional $30 million to help stabilize hospital budgets in 1998-99.
We will work closely with our institutions over the course of this year to implement a long-term strategy to deal with the operating deficits of hospital boards and provide for better accountability.
Mr. Speaker, we are making strategic investments in equipment, services, and facilities to improve our health care system. This year, we will invest:
Modern Health Care Facilities
Mr. Speaker, last year, approval was given to the St. Johns Health Care Corporation to renovate St. Clares and the General Hospital, expand the Cardiac Surgery Ward at the General Hospital, and construct a new Janeway Childrens Health and Rehabilitation Centre. This will cost $130 million.
We must also improve facilities in other areas of the Province. This year, we are continuing with construction of a new hospital at Harbour Breton, the redevelopment of the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander, and, thanks to the generous contribution of the Voisey's Bay Nickel Company, a new hospital in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Mr. Speaker, we are announcing today a multi-year plan for additional health care facilities throughout the Province:
These new expenditures, coupled with last years commitments, represent an investment of more than a quarter of a billion dollars in improved health care facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
This is not a wish list. What we are announcing today represents, in every case, facilities identified for replacement many years ago. Some are Commission of Government era hospitals, some are wooden old age homes. In every case, their replacement was deferred because of fiscal restraint. They can no longer be deferred. They are the top priorities of the Department of Health.
We will continue to review the need for new health care facilities and make appropriate investments from time to time as we can afford them.
Mr. Speaker, through increased investments in health professionals, institutional and community health budgets, equipment, services and new facilities, we are continuing to provide for the health care needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
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