Because health care is so often in the news, I want to share with you some of the work your provincial government has undertaken to improve services and infrastructure in Nova Scotia.
These are some of the recent improvements:
* The government worked with Doctors Nova Scotia to create a $39.6 million dollar package for family doctors to pay them more. The package also includes incentives help patients find a primary care provider – and come off the 811 Find a Family Practice registry.
* We added more residency spaces to train more doctors each year (10 more for family medicine, 15 more for specialist seats). Nova Scotia is the only province in the country to increase residencies.
* We added 25 new seats at Dalhousie University over the next two years to train more nurse practitioners (NPs).
* We’re also adding a new nurse practitioner education incentive to cover the salaries of up to 10 registered nurses while they take Dal’s two-year Master of Nursing nurse practitioner program. In return, the new NPs will work in a designated community for 5 years.
* The Department of Health and Wellness, the NS College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the Medical Council of Canada and Dalhousie University Department of Family Medicine all collaborated to create a new Practice Ready Assessment Program to help internationally trained doctors work here. The College is now accepting applications.
* We created a new physician immigration stream to help bring more trained physicians to the province.
* We’re expanding dialysis units in Metro.
* The Outpatient Centre in Bayers Lake is part of the QEII redevelopment. The entire project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the way health care is delivered to Nova Scotians, and you can see more about it here: https://healthredevelopment.novascotia.ca/ . In addition to the new Bayers Lake Outpatient Centre, it also includes: the expansion of the Halifax Infirmary, the Dartmouth General Hospital and the QEII Cancer Centre; a new Outpatient Centre at the Halifax Infirmary; new and renovated operating rooms at the Hants Community Hospital in Windsor (this project is complete); and the first hospice residence in Halifax.
* We’ve also reduced the wait list for home care significantly – very few people are waiting.
* We’ve expanded the Caregiver Benefit Program, which provides $400 per month for caregivers. More than 850 new people enrolled in the program between March and December last year.
* We’ve cut the waitlist for long-term care since taking office.
* We’re acting on all recommendations of an expert advisory panel to improve the quality of care in long-term care homes.
* We’ve expanded the SchoolsPlus program to all schools across Nova Scotia as part of our drive to improve mental health.
* We expanded the CaperBase model for youth mental health outreach – 4,000 young people accessed the program in the first three months of the expansion.
* We’re piloting 4 new youth health centres as advised by experts.
* Our investments have cut the waitlist for opioid addiction treatment by 90% .
*We’ve distributed roughly 7,000 naloxone kits to Nova Scotians in the last 3 years. More than 115 overdose reversals have been reported as a result.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Nova Scotia has the highest number of doctors per capita in the country. The province also has one of the best records of connecting patients with care providers — only three provinces do better. Most jurisdictions that provide socialized medicine are grappling with doctor recruitment and retention at this time.
As you can see, there are many actions under way to improve our health care – and these are only some of them. There is more work to be done, and we are determined to continue improving health care in this province.