Dear Ms. Manthorne;
Thank you for providing me with an opportunity to address these critical issues. We all know somebody whose lives have been touched by cancer. My mother and both brothers died of it, all of them far too young.
Alleviating the medical, emotional, financial and social costs of cancer and encouraging research on ways to overcome barriers to optimal cancer care and follow-up for survivors in Canada is essential. I might add, that more must be done as well to further control airborne pollution in Saint John, where, as you know, the lung cancer rate is double the national average. The necessity for more stringent anti-pollution regulations is reflected in our party’s election platform.
Access to primary healthcare
It is inexcusable that so many New Brunswickers have no access to primary care. When I first returned to the province several years ago, I could not find a family doctor despite the fact that I have Type 1 diabetes. I was, however, fortunate enough to be seen by an excellent nurse practioner who helped me to manage my chronic illness until I was finally able to locate a doctor who was willing to take me on as a patient.
As outlined in our platform, the Green Party will:
- create 40 new nurse practitioner positions and allow nurse practitioners and pharmacists to bill Medicare for health services to reduce wait times for primary health car
- eliminate the government-imposed caps on Medicare billing numbers, so more doctors can open practices in regions where there is a demand for their service
- add eight new community health-care centres staffed by collaborative family health care teams, including mental health professionals and nurse practitioners
As outlined in our platform, the Green Party will:
- support implementation of a national Pharmacare program
- eliminate the annual premiums for the New Brunswick Drug Plan for individuals earning less than $25,000 and families of four earning less than $40,000
While our platform does not go into details on the Pharmacare program, as an MLA, I personally would not be satisfied with one which provided drugs that only meet the “lowest common denominator”. Nobody should be left out of such a program. All essential drugs and associated resources (i.e. blood glucose test strips or electronic monitors for diabetics) must be provided.
While I do not see anything in our platform that specifically calls for dedicated patient engagement committees to advise the provincial government on healthcare issues, I personally believe that this is worth pursuing. As you point out, patients are a key stakeholder in the healthcare system. They must be included in the decision-making process at the provincial level
to ensure optimum outcomes.
The issues that you have raised and asked me to address are critical to the lives of all New Brunswickers. I sincerely hope that they will be implemented in a timely fashion, regardless of which party forms the next provincial government.
Green Party candidate
Saint John Lancaster
In 2017, 4,700 New Brunswickers were diagnosed with cancer and 2,100 died of it. Clearly, this life-threatening illness affects families, friends, the workplace and entire communities.
The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) works to connect patients, survivors and other stakeholder groups with decision makers and the wider community to engage in discussion and to act on evidence-based best practices to alleviate the medical, emotional, financial and social costs of cancer and encourage research on ways to overcome barriers to optimal cancer care and follow-up for survivors in Canada.
The government of New Brunswick has a critical role to play in making sure that everyone diagnosed with cancer has timely access to the medications they need; is not subjected to dangerously long wait times for diagnosis and treatment; and receives adequate financial support during diagnosis and treatment.
We invite you to respond to the following questions about cancer care and healthcare in New Brunswick. Your responses will be circulated to cancer patients and survivors in New Brunswick and included on our website at www.survivornet.ca. Links to your responses will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Question 1: Access to primary healthcare
According to Statistics Canada, more than 11.3% of the province’s population is without a family doctor. This means that 107,787 New Brunswickers are without access to primary care. In addition, wait lists for general practitioners are increasing from one to two years, and this problem is projected to worsen with doctors retiring and the growth of the senior population.
If elected, what steps will your government take to increase the availability of family doctors and healthcare practitioners in New Brunswick?
Question 2: National pharmacare
Canada’s universal healthcare system does not include access to prescription medicines. The result is a provincial/territorial patchwork of public and private insurance plans that are costly, ineffective and do not guarantee access to prescribed drugs. The federal government has set up an Advisory Council on the Implementation of Pharmacare to look at how access to prescription drugs can be improved in our healthcare system. Patients throughout Canada are concerned that national pharmacare will lead to a list of covered drugs that only meets the lowest common denominator.
If elected, will your government support the implementation of a national pharmacare program that guarantees access to prescription medicines and a coverage plan that goes beyond a formulary that meets the lowest common denominator?
If not, please explain how your party will ensure that New Brunswickers will have timely access to prescription drugs.
Question 3: Patient engagement
Patients are key stakeholders in the healthcare system. Currently, there are no dedicated patient engagement committees that advise the provincial government on healthcare issues. Regional health authorities have patient advisory committees, but more is needed.
While the government consults with regional health authorities and physicians, patients must also have direct participation in these consultations by being included in the provincial level.
If elected, will your government take steps to create a Patient Engagement Committee that directly advises the government on healthcare issues?
Canadian Cancer Survivor Network