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09 Apr Revenues Up, While Liberals Decrease Health Spending on Children and Seniors

The provincial budget tabled today in the legislature reduced health spending to its lowest increase in years. The 2015/2016 budget increased expenditures for the Department of Health and Wellness by only 0.8%, even though revenues increased 3.8% beyond what was forecast.

“Despite an increase in revenues, the Liberal government is cutting back on health care to seniors & children” said James Hutt, Provincial Co-ordinator for the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Network. “We have over 3000 seniors waiting for continuing care services, yet they have refused to open new long term care beds. All seniors get is a pittance for home care and a caregivers benefit”

The budget included $3.8 million for home care and $1.8 million in additional funding for caregivers.

“Continuing care is already in crisis and this budget does nothing to change it.” Hutt added.

Health Minister Glavine also announced that he would not increase the age of dental coverage for children as expected. The previous NDP government increased dental coverage for children up to age 14. The age was supposed to increase to age 15 on April 1st, but Glavine has said that his government has put the increase on permanent hold.

“It’s appalling. The province is in good fiscal health and yet they’re cutting dental coverage for over 11,000 children. This was money that had already been budgeted and now they’re taking it away.” Hutt said.

The budget took $1 million out of the provincial nursing strategy, while adding $2.6 million to help bring in electronic health records over the next 10 years. The Liberals allotted $700,000 to expand the Sexual Health Nurse Examiner program, and added $2 million to address orthopaedic wait times.

Hutt said these are welcome initiatives, as well as increased funding for mental health, but noted that they are all minuscule investments. With the fastest aging population and high rates of chronic disease, he said the province will have to do make sure patients aren’t left in the cold.

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