Fredericton, N.B. — Call it a mini-summit or just a quickly-arranged meeting of minds. But the goal of everyone around the table in the office of the Premier of New Brunswick was clear — better care of the province’s aging population.
Dr. Chris Simpson, past president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and Anthony Knight, Chief Executive Officer of the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS), sat down June 15 with Premier Brian Gallant and provincial Health Minister Victor Boudreau. With the Premier and minister were Greg Byrne, Principal Secretary to the Premier, Deputy Health Minister Tom Maston and Assistant Deputy Minister Mark Wies.
The federal government is looking to negotiate a new Health Accord with the provinces and territories by next year. The CMA and NBMS believe if there ever was a time for physicians to be talking to all levels of government, it is now.
Dr. Simpson told the meeting that the CMA was gratified that the Atlantic Premiers came out of their yearly meeting on May 16 urging Ottawa to calculate Canada Health Transfer payments by age demographics rather than on a per capita basis.
The Atlantic region has the oldest population in the country.
“It is a simple matter of fairness,” said Dr. Simpson. “Provinces with older populations need more money for health care.”
In New Brunswick, health care accounts for 40 per cent of all provincial government spending.
Premier Gallant said his government appreciates what the CMA has done to promote demographic health transfer payments from Ottawa. He said he looked forward to the CMA’s continued support.
Mr. Knight outlined an NBMS proposal for a central electronic medical records (EMR) system for the province run by physicians. Benefits would range from $6 million in annual savings to better and more coordinated care for seniors. The NBMS is advocating for one province-wide, cloud-based and integrated EMR system.
The NBMS is looking for an agreement that would give it a mandate to operate a delivery agent to provide family care throughout the province. The delivery agent is tentatively known as Family Medicine New Brunswick. The physician-run EMR would be the backbone of the initiative.
Patients would gain the ability to book appointments online and exchange secure emails with their doctor, in addition to support for better chronic disease management and prevention.