FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2023
NDP Leader Jim Dinn (MHA St. John’s Centre) today outlined priorities for this session of the House of Assembly:
Next week marks the beginning of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly spring session.
Access to health care is overwhelmingly the issue of greatest concern to the people of our province.
Unfortunately, this government has no plan to fix health care. Instead, what we have seen is a pattern of knee-jerk reactions to crises.
Not a day goes by without an urgent phone call from constituents about lack of access to health care, the cost of food, housing, or fuel. Many people are sick, cold, hungry, and isolated. Emergency rooms are overwhelmed, and surgery wait times continue to lengthen.
Many of these problems are a result of chronic underfunding, which has been exposed by COVID-19 and inflation over the past few years.
The NDP has been calling for a comprehensive Human Resources plan for health care to stem the bleeding of health care professionals from the public system. The Health Accord recommends establishing Collaborative Team Health Care Clinics and an Occupational Health Clinic. These clinics must get up and running immediately. This will resolve some of the pressures on the system.
We must keep people in their homes as long as possible and ensure senior couples can remain together when they enter long-term care.
The provincial air and road ambulance system must be integrated and become part of the public system so that people have access to good emergency care. In addition, the Medical Transportation Assistance Program must be properly funded.
Government already has a road map to addressing health care: the Health Accord. It highlights the need to address the social determinants of health so that people don’t end up in hospitals in the first place. If this does not happen then we are throwing good money after bad. Key to this is implementing a guaranteed basic income, which will mean that people will no longer be trapped on Income Support and live in poverty.
Until the All-Party Committee on Basic Income comes back with its report, government should increase the minimum wage to a livable wage. The Income Support rate was increased in November 2022 by five per cent. However, the rate hadn’t changed in eight years and this does not keep up with inflation. The rate must be increased and tied to the rate of inflation.
The NDP is also calling on government to fund dental care for seniors until the federal national dental care program is expanded.
Housing is also a key issue, particularly in Labrador and St. John’s. To address this, government must build more affordable housing. NLHC housing stock is mostly geared to three- or four-bedroom houses and apartments. However, much of the demand is for one- and two-bedroom units. There are limited and inadequate accessible units for those living with disabilities, which is especially unacceptable given our aging population. The province should lobby the federal government to unlock funds under the bilateral agreement between the CMHC and the National Housing Strategy.
Women have been hit particularly hard in the recession and there must be more supports for them to get back to work. To address this, government must create more childcare spaces and increase wages for early childhood educators.
The NDP also expects consultations to begin on extending pay equity and pay transparency to the private sector. We also hope to see the introduction of Just Transition legislation as promised by Minister Davis, and additions to the Provincial Health Authority Act that give Regional Health Councils actual power. Providing adequate funding to the provincial libraries system is also critical to many people, particularly students, immigrants, seniors, and those living on low incomes.
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For more information, please contact:
Eddy St. Coeur, 709.729.2137