FREDERICTON, N.B. – The Department of Health has released its 2014-15 capital and ordinary budgets, totalling $2.6 billion.
"This year's budgets reflect our government's ongoing commitment to living within our means while providing the high quality health-care services that New Brunswickers expect and deserve," said Health Minister Hugh Flemming. "I am pleased that, by better managing our spending without compromising the quality of care, we were able to keep this year's growth to less than two per cent."
Investments are being made in the following strategic areas in 2014-15:
– $27 million for the New Brunswick Drug Plan;
– $367,500 for the New Brunswick Perinatal Program, which will improve the health of expectant mothers and newborns;
– an additional $500,000 for primary health-care projects, bringing the total budget to $3.5 million;
– an additional $600,000 for initiatives under the Comprehensive Diabetes Strategy, bringing the total budget to $4.7 million; and
– an additional $2.2 million for initiatives under the Mental Health Action Plan.
The provincial government will invest an additional $3 million as part of the five-year Action Plan for Equitable Delivery of Services. Projects include improved neurology services in the Vitalité Health Network, with the recruitment of two neurologists and the expansion of the rheumatology clinic in the Acadie-Bathurst region.
A number of capital projects will be undertaken, including maintenance and improvement of health-care infrastructure, totalling $213 million:
– $148 million to complete the Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton;
– $1.6 million in initial funding for the Fredericton Community Health Centre, a partnership between the Horizon Health Network, the University of New Brunswick and the University of New Brunswick Community Health Clinic;
– $13 million to address space shortages at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton by adding a surgical suite;
– $2.3 million to start architectural planning and design work for a major addition to the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst, which will address space shortages, primarily in patient care units; and
– $4 million for initial work on long-term upgrades to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, which will include a major addition to house an intensive care unit, a surgical suite, a maternal child health unit, ambulatory care, an ambulatory procedures unit, a surgical daycare unit and a central sterile reprocessing unit for surgical instruments.
The provincial government will continue funding for a number of existing projects, including:
– $3.8 million for the integrated breast health centre at the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont University Hospital Centre;
– $3.4 million for the addition to the Dr. Léon Richard Oncology Centre at Moncton Hospital;
– $4.5 million for the new addictions centre in Edmundston;
– $2.3 million for the new Stanley Health Centre; and
– $20 million to upgrade aging equipment throughout the hospital system.
"In addition to making investments across the health-care system, our government is meeting its commitment to eliminate ambulance fees," said Flemming. "Beginning April 1, ambulance fees will be waived for those without coverage under their private health insurance. This means that no New Brunswicker will incur unreasonable out-of-pocket costs for ambulance use."
The Department of Health will continue to implement a number of efficiency and savings initiatives that have enabled it to control its expenditure growth in recent years. These items include:
– reducing central office employees through attrition,
– delivering non-clinical services in the most efficient manner possible; and
– achieving general efficiencies across the health-care system without compromising care.