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Liberals push for better prevention of HIV and AIDS in Manitoba. But it is tough in our province, for when it comes to prevention of HIV and AIDS, the Pallister Conservatives are just as bad as the NDP were before them.

Earlier today, I asked the Minister of Health in Question Period what he was doing to have a provincially focused effort to prevent HIV and AIDS.   The essential problem we have in Manitoba is that our HIV rates have been going up.  This contrasts with British Columbia where they have had a much more comprehensive prevention effort in which the full costs of prevention, care and treatment are covered by the province.   In Manitoba, with our pharmacare plan, only part of the costs are covered provincially so that not everyone with HIV and/or AIDS is able to afford the coverage and some individuals with HIV-AIDS may not be getting adequate treatment.   The importance of adequate treatment is that with adequate treatment the viral load is kept so low the person with HIV-AIDS is no longer infectious and is not able to transmit the virus, thus preventing spread.  My questions and the Minister's response is below.  I must add, it was very frustrating that the NDP in government previously did not implement the effective BC approach, and from the Conservative Minister's response today it appears he is not ready to either.   It should be added that the British Columbia approach was started in the 1990s!  We are more than 20 years behind which is very sad for Manitobans.

HIV/AIDS Rate in Manitoba - Preventative Health Services

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, prevention of sickness is vital to improve health and to reduce costs. Twice in the last week I have raised with the Minister of Health the fact that he failed to include a process to develop a province-wide preventative health service plan in Manitoba.

      The incidence of HIV has risen from an average of 67 new cases a year between '96 and '98 to 84 in 2006 to 2009 and to 105 a year in the last four years. Manitoba's rate is now the second highest of all provinces.

      I ask the Minister of Health today: What is his plan to prevent new cases of HIV and AIDS in Manitoba?

Hon. Kelvin Goertzen (Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): When it comes to the issue of HIV, one of the challenges in Manitoba is that there lack a proper information system in Manitoba to do the proper tracking and ensure that people are getting the treatment that they needed.

      We recently signed an agreement with the federal government to ensure that the information system that exists off-reserve will also be available on-reserve so we can have proper indications when it comes to treatment and those who may need treatment, and also to get a sense of where the challenges are and if they're growing in certain areas more than they are others.

      So in working together with other levels of government and with our regional health authorities, we think that this will be an improvement on the issue, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.

Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, while HIV has been increasing in Manitoba, in British Columbia there's been a significant decrease in HIV and AIDS.

      As this study, which I table, shows, the BC results provide evidence that integrated, comprehensive, free programs that facilitate testing and deliver treatment and care, including safe injection sites, can be effective in decreasing age-related mortality and morbidity, suggesting that control of and eventually an end to AIDS are possible.

      Will the Minister of Health today adopt the BC model of prevention in Manitoba?

Mr. Goertzen: Madam Speaker, we're always having discussions with other jurisdictions to look at best practices that exist across Canada. Those practices can sometimes be instructive to Manitoba, and often we are giving our best practices to other provinces and they're being adopted in those provinces.

      I look forward to having a good dialogue with Health ministers across Canada starting on Wednesday in Winnipeg here, Madam Speaker. We have a number of issues to discuss, but all of them are geared to ensuring that we have better health care in Manitoba and across Canada.

Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.

Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, Manitoba sadly isn't even including the latest drugs for treating HIV and AIDS under Pharmacare, even though certain of these can be less costly. Manitoba also doesn't currently have an adequate education and screening program, let alone the comprehensive approach of British Columbia.

      So far, the minister, with his lack of attention to preventing sickness, is showing his government is just as bad as the previous NDP government.

      Is the Minister of Health going to continue the NDP model with no province-wide preventive services program, and without an adequate screening and prevention program for HIV and AIDS?

Mr. Goertzen: Madam Speaker, I've already indicated some of the steps that we're taking when it comes to sharing information and things that can be helpful when it comes to the issue of HIV, and we believe that they will be helpful. Certainly, when it comes to preventative care and looking at things from a provincial lens and delivering services locally, the establishment of Shared Health will be significant and important, Madam Speaker.

For more on the shortcomings of the Pallister Conservatives when it comes to prevention click on the following Link


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