Delivering better health care in New Brunswick and across Canada
Hello everyone. What a pleasure to be in Dalhousie today.
I want to start by thanking the extraordinary health care workers I got to meet and talk with… a little bit about the challenges of the past couple of years that are ongoing.
I also want to thank Sarah and the entire community here for welcoming me.
I want to thank Ginette, Dominic, Jenica, Serge, and especially René.
Thank you, René, for that very warm welcome, a cold day but a welcoming crowd here in the region. It’s such a pleasure to be here.
It’s good to see Minister Fitch as well from the province… and Normand, the Mayor of Dalhousie, thank you so much for that welcome, Mayor, thank you for being with us today.
Before I begin today, I think we should all take a moment to remember the victims of the shooting in Nova Scotia that happened two years ago. To all Nova Scotians, your strength is remarkable, this is an incredibly hard day for the victims and for the families, for the… we’re thinking of you. And I want to take this occasion to really say that not just everyone here in New Brunswick, but everyone across the country is with you as you continue to grieve, as you continue to heal, as you continue to try and make some semblance of sense out of something that was absolutely senseless and horrific. We will be with you, and we will continue to be.
I want to thank everyone here at the Dalhousie Golden Age Club for welcoming us today. I got to meet Sarah, the President of the club, and other members today. We talked about how people gather here to play bridge, meet friends, connect with a range of activities, and that’s exactly right. When you’re retired, you should be able to spend time with friends and family, and doing the things you love without worrying about getting access to the quality of health care that you need and deserve.
So, as we recover from the pandemic, we have to address the existing challenges in our health care systems, including for seniors.
So today I’m very happy to announce, alongside the province, that we have a safe long-term care fund agreement with New Brunswick. The federal government will provide $22 million to improve care for residents of the province’s long-term care homes and assisted retirement facilities.
This will include hiring more staff and upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. We know, especially on the staffing side, it’s been an incredibly difficult two years as people have been overwhelmed with work; so much so that a lot of our frontline health care workers decided that it was time to take retirement or early retirement, which, of course, puts all the more pressure on people in the system.
But at the same time, as I was hearing from Gaetan, Sonia, Claudette, Cindy, people are stepping up, people coming out of retirement, volunteers stepping forward from the community. But even as we saw Canadians stepping up for each other through this pandemic, we shouldn’t have to rely on the kindness of each other to be able to get through the dark times, we should have strong systems in place.
So today’s announcement is good news for New Brunswick’s seniors, especially for those, for everyone who works in a long-term care home. Because we know the quality of care we receive is directly related to the quality of the work conditions for those who provide the care.
Conditions of care are directly -- and quality of care -- are directly related to the work conditions for the people who choose to work on the frontlines to support our most vulnerable, and that’s where we need to continue to step up for them.
All Canadians deserve quality care, regardless of their age and where they live. So in addition to today’s announcement, I can tell you that in Budget 2022, we outlined several measures to make care more accessible for everyone. We’re making investments to clear the backlog of hundreds of thousands of surgeries and procedures that were postponed because of the pandemic as quickly as possible.
We will also increase student loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses working in rural and remote communities, because we need quality people there to support the residents of rural and remove communities.
We also know that science is key to improving wellbeing and quality of life, so we’ll be continuing to invest in research to learn more about brain health and to improve treatments for people living with dementia. Of course, while we do all of this, we’ll continue supporting mental health for Canadians. We know that mental health is health, and if we’ve learned anything from the physical health challenge that the pandemic has brought, it’s that the mental health impacts were just as steep, as people were isolated, as people were living through fearful stressful times, as people went long times without their resource supports and networks to help them out.
This is something that we need to continue to invest in across all orders of government, which is why the federal government is continuing to invest more in the Wellness Together Canada online portal to make sure that this free resource continues to be available for people everywhere in the country.
In short, we’re doing what it takes to improve health care for seniors and for all Canadians, and we’ll continue our work to ensure that no one gets left behind.
Before I end, I just want to share a little bit of an update on Ukraine.
This morning I had a call with President Biden and a handful of other global leaders. We continue to monitor the situation and coordinate actions to respond to Putin’s terrible, illegal invasion. Today Canada is imposing 14… new restrictions on 14 close associates of the Russian regime, including Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, as well as oligarchs and their family members. This Russian regime and its associates need to continue to be held accountable for their actions.
Putin’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion has created a humanitarian crisis. As we announced last week, 100 Canadian Armed Forces members have been deployed to Poland to help Ukrainians fleeing violence, and we will continue to be there to support refugees in Europe and to welcome those who want to come to Canada.