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Why is the Pallister government, like the NDP before them, paying lip service to prevention, but failing to act?

Last week, Minister of Health Kelvin Goertzen released details of his plan to transform health care in Manitoba.   The centrepiece of his transformation is a new organization called Shared Health.  Shared Health was initially promoted as focusing on a plan for clinical and preventive services as well as providing a variety of business services for all Regional Health Authorities.  However, the plan when unveiled (see below at the bottom of this blog post) is focused on clinical services and business services and omits any mention of a plan for shared preventive services. An effective and focused plan for preventive services needs to be a major component of any health care transformation.  Earlier today, I asked the Minister of Health why his transformation plan omitted a plan to prevent sickness and improve wellness.   As you will see in his responses in the video below or in the text from Hansard below the video, he avoided answering this critical question - essentially admitting that he forgot to include the plan for preventive services. 


Text from Hansard

Shared Health Services - Prevention Services Plan


Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, the record of the provincial government falls short when it comes to preventing sickness and improving wellness in our province.
      In the announcement last week about shared services Manitoba, the section on the function of shared services, which I table, talks of developing a clinical services plan but fails to provide plans to develop a prevention services plan to optimize the health of Manitobans as a central role of shared services.
      Why does this government repeatedly fall short and shortchange prevention efforts when it comes to health care?

Hon. Kelvin Goertzen (Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): Madam Speaker, Shared Health is going to be critical in co-ordinating many of the services that happen in health care in Manitoba that really should be planned provincially and delivered locally, something that's been recommended for many years.
      In fact, when Dr. Brock Wright came to my office and laid out his vision for shared health, he did so in about an hour, Madam Speaker. He isn't always brief in his explanations. So I said to him, you seem to have been planning this for a long time. And he said, we've been planning it for 20 years, but nobody's been listening.

Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.
Mr. Gerrard: And, Madam Speaker, the minister laid out the plans last week, and it was quite clear that prevention was forgotten.
      Madam Speaker, though the minister can talk about prevention, he only provided the clinical services plan. I table his prevention services plan. It's an almost blank piece of paper.
      Transformation needs to include moving to much more effective prevention.
      Is the Pallister government going to be like the former NDP government and talk about prevention but never put in place an effective plan and implement it?

Mr. Goertzen: Well, I've taken a lot of slings and arrows in this House, but that's the most insulting thing I've ever been compared to, Madam Speaker, is the former NDP government,
      Because when you look at the record of this government–and let's just look at wait times. When we compare May of this year compared to May of last year when it comes to wait times in emergency rooms in Winnipeg, there's a 5 per cent decrease over last year. In fact, it's a 14 per cent decrease over May of 2016 and it's a 26 per cent decrease over May of 2015.
      This government is making improvements to health care because we have the courage to do it. He can sit there and shoot slings and arrows all he wants, Madam Speaker. We're going to be courageous and make the changes that need to happen.

Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, the government needs to face up to the fact that they forget prevention. Preventing sickness and optimizing health care can improve society and reduce health costs and needs to be part of any health transformation, as the article I table shows.
      The NDP were so ineffective that the number of people with diabetes doubled and hospitalizations for mental illness rose in their time in government. The inability of the Pallister government to lay out an effective preventive services plan shows they are no different than the NDP–lip-service words but no action.
      Is the Minister of Health going to do what every NDP minister of Health did: leave the preventive services to the next minister?

Mr. Goertzen: I plan to leave nothing to the next minister. I'm going to finish it all, Madam Speaker.
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh. 
Mr. Goertzen: But when–Madam Speaker, got a lot of applause over here for that, eh?
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Goertzen: But when it comes to transformation, Madam Speaker, let's look at what code is for transformation when it comes to a Liberal. Because that member opposite sat in the former Chrétien government, and his idea of transformation of the health-care services was to cut: to cut hundreds of millions of dollars of funding to Manitoba.
      Now, when it comes to transformation now, the current Liberal government, when it comes to health care, we've seen that too: cutting $2 billion over 10 years, Madam Speaker. I'm happy to stay in this position and fight the federal Liberal government for as long as I can.

Description of Shared Health and its role from the Manitoba government's material on their transformation of health care in Manitoba.


Shared Health
A provincial health organization, called Shared Health, is being created from within existing resources to provide centralized clinical and business services for the regional health authorities.
This includes clinical governance, such as strategic planning for services like surgery, mental health, orthopedics and primary care and the development and provision of consistent clinical standards and support for health human resources and labour relations.
The Provincial Clinical and Preventive Services Planning for Manitoba report (also known as the Peachey Report) and the Health Sustainability and Innovation Review undertaken by KPMG both note that while Manitoba's government is responsible for overseeing the provincial health care system, the province has never developed a provincial clinical services plan.
This is something that is in existence in many other jurisdictions and is essential to supporting effective health human resource planning, capital equipment investments, construction planning and other initiatives that should be coordinated province-wide. Shared Health will lead this work in Manitoba.
Business and support services will also benefit greatly from involvement in, and understanding of, a provincial plan. Services and functions that will be centralized include contracting and procurement of supplies and equipment, capital planning, communications, food distribution, laundry services, clinical engineering services and legal services.
In addition, some provincial health care services will be operated centrally in recognition of the province-wide nature of the services they provide. This will include the operation of Health Sciences Centre, Transplant Manitoba, provincial laboratories and emergency medical services (including dispatch outside Winnipeg).
These changes will reduce duplication of management and administrative functions while making sure each region is able to provide health care services with the guidance of a provincial clinical services plan. It will also make sure that services provided centrally are coordinated and consistent.

For more information on Shared Health, visit: sharedhealthmb.ca.


For a link to a recent study by Dr. Herbert Emergy which shows the cost-effectiveness of preventative approaches click on this link.


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