Lorraine Michael Question Period (12.10.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last April in Estimates, the Minister of Health and Community Services said that a paid family caregiver program was close to being finalized with $6.1 million allotted for the 2013 Budget, and $8.2 million for 2014. Now it will not even be off the ground until next March.

So I ask the minister: Why is the program so far behind schedule?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have an opportunity to talk about paid family care in the House of Assembly, because this is a program that the people of the Province have asked for and we are happy to deliver. This is a program, though, that had no jurisdiction in the country being able to offer us any advice at all in terms of how we would do it.

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

MS SULLIVAN: So, the answer to the question that the Member for Bay of Islands did not ask about, but seems to want to ask about now, is that we did allocate $6.1 million for that particular program, we had some challenges in putting it together, but the good news about the programs is that it is moving forward. We are really happy to have made the announcement, and it will annualize at $8.2 million, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister just repeated something that she said yesterday when she talked about the complexity of developing a paid family caregiver program was highlighted by the fact that no other province had one. It is probably because provinces with mature, publicly run home care programs have less need for such a program, and have revealed problems with this model.

So, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: What barriers and drawbacks did she learn about this model from other jurisdictions?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, we undertook some rigorous consultation processes within the Department of Health and Community Services. I know when I was across the country speaking to my counterparts we had many conversations around how such a program could be put together, and then rolled out and implemented in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, the most important thing about this particular program is that we assure the quality of care the clients of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve. That was our primary focus right throughout the whole process. It was to ensure we were client centric in our approach to doing this.

Mr. Speaker, apart from that, we need to balance off the responsibility of families to look after families in an unpaid sense with their responsibility to actually provide care when they absolutely could not do it any other way.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The program as outlined by the minister yesterday excludes spouses and common-law partners because of the expectation that their natural caregiving roles will continue.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: What is the expectation of the amount of time spouses and common-law partners must put in on unpaid caregiving for their loved ones?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the whole culture of Newfoundland and Labrador, then we know that families in this Province have always wanted to look after their loved ones. There has always been a natural caregiving tendency of everybody in this Province, and that certainly exists for spouses one to the other. It is not our intent to monetize that value.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

We have many spouses and common-law partners who are going around exhausted because of giving that care. The minister says training will be provided to appropriate staff of the regional health authorities –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL:– to oversee their Home Support Program.

I ask the minister: How are these already overloaded professionals going to find the time to monitor new paid family caregiver homes when they are already stretched to the limit?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, let me respond to her preamble first of all about tired spouses in this Province. What she has obviously forgotten is that there is a Home Support Program in this Province. Six thousand people are availing of that particular Home Support Program in this Province and are receiving some very, very good care.

Mr. Speaker, to the second part of her question with regard to staffing, through the Budget process we have allocated an additional eighteen FTEs, or full-time equivalents, to be able to work with the current 300 staff who work in Long-term Care and Community Support Services Division.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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