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Canada's Minister of Health comes to Guelph to speak about dementia and pharmacare

Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada's current Minister of Health, was in Guelph Tuesday to meet a number of local stakeholders in the health care sector
20190625 Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor Lloyd Longfield KA
Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada's current Minister of Health. left, speaks with 91-year-old Ruby Jean Good at St. Joseph's Health Centre on Tuesday as Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield looks on. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday

During a visit to Guelph Tuesday, Canada’s Health minister says she is concerned about cuts to health care in Ontario as the federal government gets set to roll out a national dementia strategy and is hoping to implement a national pharmacare program.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada's current Minister of Health, was in Guelph Tuesday to meet a number of local stakeholders in the health care sector. 

Speaking with GuelphToday after a meeting at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Petitpas Taylor said recently reported cuts at Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) in Ontario, such as the Waterloo Wellington LHIN, are concerning.

“I have to say I am very disappointed by the cuts we have seen in the public health area. I think it is short sighted,” said Petitpas Taylor.

LHINs are the health authorities tasked with administrating public healthcare services at a local level in Ontario. Last week, 23 people were laid off from the Waterloo Wellington LHIN and six avacant positions will not be filled.

Among the many responsibilities of the LHIN is managing the wait lists for people with dementia seeking to be placed in a long-term care home or other such facility.

“We recognize public health is a very important part of our health care system and we can either invest early on or invest even more down the road,” said Petitpas Taylor. “When I see the cuts, they are very concerning to me.”

Petitpas Taylor met with a number of front-line health care workers, Public Health and representatives of the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Society, among others, in the afternoon meeting at St. Joseph’s. A number of topics were discussed, including dementia, pharmacare, home care and palliative care.

“When I talk to many seniors, they tell me they want to age at home as long as possible, they want to stay home and live independently. So often they need additional help and support,” said Petitpas Taylor.

“We have to make sure we gear our health care system for the needs of the twenty-first century. A part of those needs is making sure our aging population has access to the services they need.”

Earlier in the day, Petitpas Taylor met with a group working on integrated mental health strategies for youth at the YMCA in Guelph. Later she met with the president of the University of Guelph to discuss mental health and the opioid crisis as well as One Health.

The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada says over half a million Canadians are living with dementia and that number will almost double in the next 15 years.

Funding for the National Dementia Strategy has been earmarked at $50 million over the next five years. Petitpas Taylor said the funding will begin to flow shortly, before the October election.

Much of the funding is centred on research and prevention, but Petitpas Taylor noted some of it will help people dealing with dementia now.

“Some of he funding is earmarked to ensure that a front line service providers receive the training that they need now,” said Petitpas Taylor. 

“We recognize that when staff and family members receive the proper training, from there the patients are going to receive better care and a better quality of life.”

The current government's plan to roll out a national pharmacare plan is contingent on the Liberals winning the next election.