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March 28, 2003
For immediate release

Minister Wayne Easter and Minister Jamie Ballem Announce $6.5 Million to Strengthen Primary Health Care in Prince Edward Island

Health and Social Services

On behalf of the Honourable Anne McLellan, Federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Wayne Easter, Solicitor General of Canada and Member of Parliament for Malpeque, and the Honourable Jamie Ballem, Minister of Health and Social Services, today announced that the Government of Canada is investing close to $6.5 million in initiatives designed to ensure that Prince Edward Island residents have access to high-quality, affordable and sustainable primary health care services.

Primary health care is the first level of care and the initial point of contact that a patient has with the health system. Often, primary health care begins with the family physician or community health nurse. Primary health care is meant to be the first step in the continuum of care, with multi-disciplinary health care provider teams emphasizing health promotion, illness prevention, chronic diseases management and providing a link to more specialized care, such as that provided in hospitals. The Government of Prince Edward Island will use a portion of this funding to:

establish family health centres which include a collaborative practice of multi-disciplinary health provider teams;

develop and implement a strategy for healthy living and an improved drug utilization strategy;

expand an integrated palliative care strategy; and to

implement videoconferencing for clinical care and patient and provider education.

"This funding will improve the ability of Prince Edward Island to integrate initiatives aimed at both health promotion, and injury and illness prevention," said Mr. Easter. "These changes will result in better health outcomes for Island residents which, in turn, will relieve pressure on their health care system."

"The people of Prince Edward Island want, and deserve, a health care system that meets their needs in their home communities," said Minister Ballem. "Through Primary Health Care Redesign, we are working with our Health Regions and health professionals to improve access to health services, promote health and wellness, and to strengthen community services which prevent, reduce and manage illness. New initiatives, such as Family Health Centres, allow for health professional teams working in collaborative practise to work on an ongoing basis with the people they serve, for individual solutions to individual health needs."

Funding for today's announcement is provided under the $800-million Primary Health Care Transition Fund (PHCTF) which was established in September 2000 by the Government of Canada to support the efforts of provinces and territories to develop and implement transitional primary health care reform initiatives as part of the overall renewal of Canada's health care system. The PHCTF also supports Canadian initiatives that address challenges faced by several jurisdictions and health stakeholders.

A renewed primary health care system would have the following features:

More primary health care organizations that are accountable to provide a prescribed set of comprehensive services to the populations they serve.

Multi-disciplinary provider teams within these primary health care organizations.

Better coordination and integration with health services available elsewhere, such as home care, mental health services and hospitals.

Greater emphasis on health promotion, disease and injury prevention, and chronic diseases management.

Improved access to essential services, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

As recently announced in the Government of Canada's 2003 budget, federal support to health care in Canada will increase by $17.3 billion over the next three years. This support will be $34.8 billion over five years, which includes a $9.5 billion increase in transfers to provinces and territories over the next five years and a $2.5 billion immediate transfer, among other directed funds.

Public Inquiries (Health Canada): (613) 957-2991

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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