May 11th, 2022

Primary care fix needed, PAC reviews community-based health organization funding

HALIFAX – While the family doctor waitlist has increased to a record of almost 92,000 people, the Houston government is ignoring real options that would improve people’s access to primary care. Today’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting will discuss funding for community-based health organizations including community health centres and sexual health clinics throughout Nova Scotia.

“This government’s plan to fix health care was disappointing, with few to no details on how they intend to reach their goals,” said NDP Health and Wellness spokesperson Susan Leblanc. “When we have almost 10 per cent of the population on the doctors waitlist and more than 27,000 people on the waitlist for surgery, we need a government that’s going to take action now. People need access to primary care and community health centres should be part of that.”

The Conservatives’ 2022-23 budget has no new operational funding for community health centres or sexual health services and no new funding for collaborative care. According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information, the average cost of an emergency department visit is $304 and has been rising over the last number of years. Between 2014 and 2021 there was a 127 per cent increase in the number of people visiting ERs who don't have access to a primary care provider.

“Too many people have no primary health care provider, and the numbers keep getting worse,” said NDP MLA Claudia Chender. “The Houston government has no plan to fix primary care beyond recruitment, but many doctors who are coming here to practice end up leaving because they feel unsupported. Recruitment alone will barely make up for retirements. We need a plan for primary care.”

The NDP continues to push for solutions to the health care crisis, including investing in more physician assistants and midwives to relieve pressure on doctors and nurses, investing in collaborative and community care, and expanding community-based mental health care.