Investing in Prevention Part 2 – Primary Community Care in 20 minutes or Less

September 5, 2019


WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont announced the Liberal Plan to improve access to Community Health Care for all Manitobans by investing in primary care to ensure people can reach primary care health services within 20 minutes. The Liberals’ goal is to ensure that in a first term, 80% of Manitobans can access primary care health services within 20 minutes’ travel time and ensuring 100% of Manitobans can get that level of care within a second term.  Primary health includes quick care clinics, mobile clinics, access centres, doctors and nurse practitioners.  Under the PCs, all have been cut or frozen and budgets for primary care has been underspent by $6.7-million over two years — while the costs of treating complications from untreated disease have soared.  According to the 2016/17 Manitoba Health annual report, the Primary Care budget was underspent by 64.67%. The following year in 2017/18 it was underspent by a further 70%. At the same time, the Pallister Government created an entirely new fourth level of health care bureaucracy, Shared Services. “If the Pallister Government ran a fire department like our health system, they would be refusing to install sprinkler systems while spending all their money putting out five-alarm fires,” said Lamont. “Better primary care will help catch problems earlier, and save money by investing in keeping people healthy, instead of waiting until they are really sick to treat them.”  Studies show that improved access to teams of primary care professionals, particularly with mental health and diabetes can reduce direct health care and societal costs by 17% in one year. Some parts of Manitoba have the highest rates of diabetes in Canada - 20 times the national average.  Manitoba Liberals will reverse Pallister’s primary care cuts and invest in primary health care to ensure that our community clinics are supported - making sure that Manitobans know they can get the care they need close to home without going to an ER. They will also work with Indigenous people and the Federal Government to ensure that similar standards apply on reserve.  Manitoba cannot continue to ignore the extreme disparity of health services to our Indigenous communities. Community care is a priority for every single community in Manitoba.  Led by Indigenous people and supported financially by the federal government, Manitoba Liberals will work towards proactive coordination between Indigenous people and provincial health service providers, which will be required for a successful transition and better care. The provincial government has the opportunity to act as a true partner with Indigenous health issues and save countless downstream dollars that affect the bottom line of our provincial departments — including emergency health care, families, education, justice, and Indigenous relations. Better local care is also essential to Manitobans — too many of whom have to travel for hours to get health care. Manitoba’s health care travel costs for emergency services alone cost $100-million.  “By providing better community health care, and improving access to primary care, we can keep Manitobans healthier, reduce emergency and crisis treatment, and spend our money on care instead of travel,” said Lamont. “Health care is not a cost to be cut, it is an essential investment in a healthy society that makes us all better off.”  

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