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Oral Questions put forward by Chuck

Tuesday December 10, 2013

HEALTH & WELLNESS: EIBI PROG. - WAIT TIMES

MR. CHUCK PORTER : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. Mr. Speaker, a family in my constituency has been waiting since 2011, March 2011 to be exact, for their son to access the services provided by the province's Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention program - their son is now 4 years old and still no end in sight. My question to the minister through you, Mr. Speaker, will the minister make changes to address the wait times for the EIBI program?

HON. LEO GLAVINE : Mr. Speaker, I certainly concur with the Health Critic opposite that the EIBI program is extremely valuable to all Nova Scotians. At the present time we do have inconsistencies of wait times across Nova Scotia, and some of these are being addressed every year, but the timeliness of this program for young children is absolutely critical. We committed to doing a review of all of the recommendations for the autism strategy and, as part of reviewing those 51 recommendations, reviewing as well wait times for EIBI is part of that consideration.

MR. PORTER  : Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. This family has two choices unfortunately - either send their son to school next year and become ineligible for the program, or to keep him home another year and wait for the services. This is an impossible choice for this family and one they should not be forced to make. The EIBI program was expanded so all eligible children will be offered the treatment. My question is, this is obviously not the case, what can the minister say to ease the anxiety of families who have been unfairly put in this very difficult position?

MR. GLAVINE  : Mr. Speaker, I know in some of the districts across Nova Scotia there are training programs for parents that will assist them in supporting and helping the child until they actually get to meet a therapist. It's obvious in this district perhaps that wait-list and perhaps even for parental instruction is still very limited, but again this program is one that is very, very important to both the minister and this Party, who have advocated long and hard and moved autism from zero dollars to $4 million to $8 million. And doing what we can to support parents and children is, in fact, critical to that child's future.

MR. PORTER : Mr. Speaker, again I thank the minister for that answer and I know that he is very familiar with this file. There are serious differences in wait times for the EIBI program between district health authorities. This program is to be based on the age of the child, but if the family in my constituency were to move to a different health authority, mere miles away, they may not have this problem. My question to the minister is, what will the minister do to address the wait time disparity between health authorities, and how can he ensure that children are seen based on their age?

MR. GLAVINE  : Mr. Speaker, we know that this is going to continue to be an enormous challenge for our government, as now we're discovering that about one in 76 children do have some degree of autism along the spectrum, and trying to level out the wait times across Nova Scotia is indeed one of our challenges. I would certainly encourage the Health Critic for the Opposition to, in fact, give me this particular case and see if, in fact, the Capital District Health Authority and the department can find some solution.


 Wednesday December 4, 2013

HEALTH & WELLNESS: RENAL DIALYSIS - REVIEW

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. I know the minister has been in his role for only a couple of months but I know from his many years in this House that he also held the role of Health Critic and he also understands the needs of those requiring renal dialysis in this province. I wonder if the minister is committed to reviewing some of the decisions made by past governments that do not address the needs of all Nova Scotians, especially those in rural Nova Scotia?

HON. LEO GLAVINE:
Mr. Speaker, I really thank the member opposite, the Health Critic, for that question. It’s a very significant question. There are over 3,000 Nova Scotians who suffer from some form of kidney disease, over 500 who receive dialysis. There are three programs across Nova Scotia - one in Sydney, one in Yarmouth and of course the largest one here at the QE II. The QE II, therefore, is the guiding health authority or department that decides on what satellite communities will be established. Presently Kentville is the community that will receive the next satellite dialysis opportunity in the province. That should be in place within about 18 months and it’s going to do two things and that is take pressure off the program here at the QE II as well as allow more people to stay in the Valley as opposed to commuting to Halifax.

MR. PORTER:
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that response. I know he’s very familiar, and I certainly know how familiar he is with the decisions that have been made for Kentville. Now, I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that Kentville does not deserve to have dialysis in that area - they do, as does Berwick, where they are currently located and many people travel to from my area as well. There was a suggestion, however, that - we are all familiar with the Hants Community Hospital, I know that the minister is - in the Windsor area that has volunteers, a board and a foundation that has raised tens of thousands of dollars, Mr. Speaker, to support the purchase of renal dialysis units there. They also have staff whom I have spoken to who are willing to come back home to work. Would the minister consider this, given all of the options that have been put out there, the support that does exist and still exists, to review that decision for Kentville - maybe share some of that wealth, if he will, throughout the Valley to cover all areas and to relieve some of the physical and mental stress as well as the financial burdens that go along with those travelling for dialysis treatment?

MR. GLAVINE:
Mr. Speaker, this is one of the health areas that we know is going to have greater demands in the future, just looking at the aging population, and it goes along with of course chronic disease, and sometimes multiple diseases that our citizens will have. So at the present time there isn’t a plan for Windsor, but looking at the demand that we will have and trying to take some pressure off the 42 beds, three shifts that go through the QE II, I am sure that there can be a review to get best guidance from the QE II as to the need and the help that may be able to be provided from other sites across the province.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable minister for that answer. A review is one word and I guess that’s where we can start, but I really hope that he takes seriously what is being offered by those folks in the Windsor-West Hants area. What they have to offer is something that has not been offered anywhere else, minister, and I know that you know that as well. So what an opportunity to seek that help and to add it to straining budgets. We know that they all exist, we know things cost money, but I hope seriously that the minister will do more than take it under review, that he will look at a serious plan in the months ahead to have some discussions with those people out there as well who deserve to be treated fairly and to take those stresses off those travelling who need that renal dialysis.

MR. GLAVINE:
I thank the member for the question and I think all of us in this House know that patients who suffer kidney disease go through a very, very challenging disease, having to go to a centre three times a week if they’re not able to be a candidate for home dialysis. One of the facts that we should all know in this House about the renal program in our province is that we’re actually a national leader in the number of citizens who actually receive a kidney transplant. That is a very, very good thing that we’re able to speak about on a per capita basis, having the highest number of kidney transplants which becomes a final health delivery for many people. That being said, we know the kind of pressure that is on renal dialysis and I certainly compliment the member opposite for the work he has done on this file and also the citizens in the Windsor area who want to see a site there. It is certainly one that can receive consideration and I thank the member for bringing it forward.

 

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