Combining long-term vision and immediate action to improve health care

The Green Party provided details today on its multipronged approach to transforming health care on Prince Edward Island. “Health care is probably the biggest concern I hear on the doorsteps,” said Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. “Islanders are anxious. They worry about access to a family doctor, government’s ability to address our mental health and addictions crisis, and whether appropriate services are available for our seniors.”

The Green Party will approach these challenges with a number of measures to address current pressure points in the system as well as a longer-term vision of using the social determinants of health to improve the wellbeing of all Islanders.

“Our first priority is to expand and improve rural health care services,” said Bevan-Baker. “We are not only committed to maintaining the current level of service in rural hospitals but to enhance them so Islanders will have more services where they live.”

The Green Platform commits to establishing health care hubs in rural hospitals to enhance service integration by bringing together a wide range of services including diagnosis, treatment and support for managing acute and chronic disease. It also supports the development of collaborative community health centres to ensure local access to primary care.

The Green Party platform commits to improving home care supports and long-term residential care for Island seniors.

“We need to find better ways to ensure that Island seniors can stay in their homes and communities and receive the services they need,” said Bevan-Baker. “We will also be expanding dental care benefits, eye care services for children, and the provincial drug formulary.”

On the issue of the recruitment of health professionals, Bevan-Baker says that government must look at the systemic barriers to recruitment and retention. “We cannot fix systemic problems, like the lack of continuity of care for people with mental health challenges, by simply throwing more money at the issue. We need to fix the system.

“I recently met with the medical society and one physician said something that really stuck with me. ‘Doctors recruit doctors, communities retain doctors, and systems drive doctors away.’ We must continue to actively recruit new physicians and other health professionals, but we must also address the larger problems that end with so many becoming frustrated and leaving again. We must also look at issues such as nurse staffing levels and the increase of violence against nurses and other frontline health workers.”

In addition to its immediate commitments the Green Platform also outlines the party’s long-term vision for health care. “We currently have a disease intervention system, not a health care system. We must do more to promote wellness. For example we can’t seriously tackle our mental health and addictions issues, without also looking at the chronic stress of living in poverty, the enormous pressure to succeed in our society, and the breakdown of traditional community and family supports. It is just as important to prevent illness as it is to provide treatment once someone becomes ill.”

Green Party health care commitments include:

  • Provide health professionals with the opportunity to work to their full scope of practice including, but not limited to, pharmacists, midwives, and nurse practitioners
  • Expand and improve rural health care services
  • Establish health care hubs in rural hospitals to enhance service integration by co-locating and providing a broad range of health services by health care professionals, including diagnosis and treatment of health conditions and support in managing long-term healthcare, including chronic illnesses like diabetes
  • Support the development of collaborative community health centres to ensure local access to primary health care
  • Improve home care and long-term residential care for Island seniors
  • Provide better home care supports so Islanders who wish to can remain at home longer
  • Roll back the recently announced fee increase in public facilities and implement incremental and predictable increases
  • Conduct a full assessment of costs for public facilities and income levels required to receive subsidies
  • Introduce comprehensive midwifery services to provide preconception, pre-natal, delivery and post-natal care in several centres with provision for home births where desired and appropriate
  • Include birth control pills & IUDs in the PEI Pharmacare Program for Islanders not covered by existing health care plans
  • Expand Dental Health Care benefits to Social Assistance clients and extend coverage to low income Islanders
  • Introduce a “social prescribing” pilot program
  • Expand healthcare coverage to include ‘social prescribing’ that recognizes social connection as fundamental to wellness and allows health care professionals to prescribe physical, mental, and culturally-appropriate activities as important aspects of their patient’s health care approach
  • Develop models of remuneration and benefits that enhance our ability to recruit new physicians
  • Actively recruit medical residents and specialists including nurse practitioners to train and work on PEI
  • Review the legislation for Health PEI with the objective of strengthening its independence and providing greater accountability for health outcomes