By ROSALYN ROY
After speaking with Liberal Party leader Andrew Furey during his recent visit to the Southwest Coast, we reached out to PC Leader Ches Crosbie with the same two questions. Mr. Crosbie replied via e-mail during his West Coast campaign trip last week.
Q: What, if anything, are you doing to attract doctors to more rural areas since there simply aren’t enough, including in our region?
A. We commit to take the advice of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association to create a province-wide program of primary health care teams:
• where patients receive comprehensive care;
• where family physicians can transition away from solo practice to team practice;
• where nurse practitioners, registered nurses and other providers can be connected and integrated with family doctors in team structures;
• where patients can have a continuous relationship with their own “most responsible provider”;
• where the progress we have made in electronic medical records and virtual care can be harvested for integrated team care; and where the focus can shift to wellness and disease prevention.
As well, we will heed the NLMA’s advice to set the goals of reducing the proportion of unattached patients in the province to 5 per cent and retaining 75 per cent of Memorial medical graduates who pursue family medicine.
It is imperative that we take this approach because there is something fundamentally wrong when 90,000 people do not have access to a family doctor. Every resident of the province should have access to a family doctor.
To ensure all residents can access quality and timely health care, a PC Government will introduce a health care team model. This delivery model will provide residents with access to family doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, occupational therapists and dieticians. Health care teams will offer after-hour and weekend clinics as well as virtual care.
We will work with communities, doctors, and the NLMA to focus on the recruitment of family doctors. We will also develop a more robust retention structure for graduating physicians of the Memorial University Medical School and provide attractive reimbursement/taxation packages for those who choose to practice in the province, particularly in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
Q: Every federal government, regardless of who formed it, has broken their promise to not increase rates for the Marine Atlantic ferry service, and the taxpayer burden on this province in enormous. What, if anything, will you do to try to reduce that burden?
A. A PC government will work to lower Marine Atlantic ferry rates that raise the cost of living in Newfoundland and Labrador, make businesses less competitive and hurt tourism.
As the question acknowledges, Marine Atlantic is the responsibility of the federal government. But that does not mean we can’t hold them accountable to provide affordable and reliable service. In fact, it is their constitutional duty to so do. A PC government will work with the federal government and press them to keep rates as low as possible. Ottawa must step up and not ignore our province.
Editor’s note: As of publication deadline, PC candidates Ethan Maxwell Wheeler-Park (Burgeo – LaPoile) and Gary W. Bishop (St. George’s – Humber) had not responded to repeated requests for interviews. NDP candidate Judy Vanta (Burgeo – La Poile) also did not respond to our inquiries.