New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant is softening his stance on making health care for seniors priority, according to the province’s seniors’ care advocate.
Cecile Cassista said at a meeting with Gallant in September, she suggested he seek support to transfer long-term care into the purview of the health department to facilitate easier funding from Ottawa.
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Cassista said long-term seniors’ care in New Brunswick —; including home care, nursing homes, specialized beds and special-care homes —; is currently the responsibility of the department of social development.
“It makes no sense for seniors to be under social development,” she said. “Health transfers do not go to social development. These two department work in silos.”
She said all the other provinces in Canada funds long-term seniors’ care through their health departments.
Under the Canada Health Act, a primary objective is to protect, promote and improve the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other obstacles.
In December 2015, there were 448 seniors waiting in New Brunswick hospitals for placement in nursing homes.
Cassista said Gallant supported a suggestion from the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights for the federal government to increase health transfer payments to the province due to its growing need for seniors’ health care.
On Wednesday, when the Atlantic premiers met with several federal cabinet ministers, Gallant said there are various ways Ottawa can help cover the higher health-care costs associated with the aging population.
“What mechanisms we use I am very open to discuss and negotiate,” he said. “But clearly as a country we have an aging population challenge that has to be addressed.”
Federal Treasury Board President Scott Brison suggested a federal-provincial partnership to help the provinces deal with the realities of increasing costs due to aging populations.
“One of the best ways to do it is invest with provinces by supporting more home care,” he said.
Cassista said she will meet with Liberal MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who represents the riding of Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, at a roundtable pre-budget discussion on Friday in Riverview.
She will then call upon the government to advocate with premiers of other provinces that all continuum of care services for seniors living at home and in long-term care facilities be included in the Canada Health Act.