Nfld. & Labrador

Seniors centre of attention in Liberal health care plan

Liberal leader Dwight Ball promised better services for seniors, regulated midwifery and a more flexible home care program, as the party unveiled its health care platform Monday.

Dwight Ball promises 'best value, best care'

Liberal leader Dwight Ball unveils his party's health plan in Grand Falls-Windsor Monday. (CBC)

Liberal leader Dwight Ball promised better services for Newfoundland and Labrador seniors, a more flexible home care program and regulated midwifery, as the party unveiled its health care platform Monday.

"Better management of the province's health care system will allow us to achieve the greatest value while also improving outcomes," said Ball during a campaign stop in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Many of the promises, such as a seniors' advocate and a dementia management program, were aimed the province's aging population. 

Ball also promised "a home support program that is flexible and responsive," and to work with the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation and communities to develop housing options.

Ball said the goal is to help seniors stay in their homes longer. "And we'll do this by providing healthy living assessments for seniors aged 70 years and older, at no cost to them," he said.

Dwight Ball campaigns in a pizza shop in Grand falls-Windsor on Monday, before unveiling a health plan that promises better care for seniors. (CBC)

"These healthy living assessments will be done annually, in home, and will be conducted by a qualified health care professional." 

He said Liberals will also work with communities to improve transportation options for seniors "so they can not only access health care services more readily, but participate more fully in their communities."

Need to modernize

The Liberals will also modernize the Medical Transportation Assistance Program, which helps cover the cost of patients who travel to get health care. 

Interviewed after his news conference, Ball said that could mean giving patients vouchers for their expenses, rather than having them pay up front, and then submit a claim.

In reference to the province's high rate of chronic diseases, Ball said the Liberals will promote healthy living and finance early intervention programs.

He promised "a province-wide diabetes database to track up-to-date health statistics."

The party will also support a cardiovascular centre of excellence, and "improved diagnostic services and timelines to reduce wait-lists for detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease."

Youth and mental health

The Liberal platform also includes a Youth Wellness Program to establish risk assessments starting in Kindergarten, after school physical education programs, and applied behavior analysis for autistic children beyond Grade 3.

Ball also promised regional adolescent health clinics that test for sexually transmitted infections, offer preventative care, and provide counseling.

A course on mental health and addictions will be developed for high schools, he said, and the Liberals repeated their promise to move on construction of a new Waterford Hospital.

Ball said the new Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook will also be a priority for a Liberal government.  That hospital was promised in 2007, but is still not built.

The Liberals said they will provide a detailed cost analysis of their campaign platforms once all five planks have been announced.

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