Question Period highlight – cancer care for at-home treatment

October 15, 2014

Your NDP MLAs are hard at work in the legislature this fall, holding the government to account during Question Period on a number of key issues, including job loses since Stephen McNeil became Premier, and how the Liberals’ health board amalgamation distraction is causing their government to take their eye off what really matters – front line care. Here is a question NDP Health Critic Dave Wilson asked about cancer care for at-home treatment.

DAVID WILSON: Recently we have heard disturbing accounts of what it cost some cancer patients to continue their treatment from home. There are too many Nova Scotians paying out of pocket for drugs that would be covered if they received that same treatment within a hospital setting. So I’d like to ask, can the minister tell us what drugs and at-home treatments are being considered for extended Medicare coverage here in Nova Scotia?

 LEO GLAVINE: We know that there is a constant growing demand to provide a wide range of medications outside of hospital. We have actually started with cancer care drugs, the oral medications that now are a very big source of concern to Nova Scotians, so this is an area that we will be addressing. Very often, it is more of the process, as opposed to people unable to access coverage.

DAVID WILSON: I think it’s important that the government continue to move in that direction. I was glad to be part of a government that started to fund palliative care drugs if they received them at home, so we need to continue to move in that direction.

Together the federal, provincial, and territorial governments saved millions on prescription drugs in 2012, Mr. Speaker. Bulk purchasing of generic drugs is one way our administration was working to reduce health care costs for cancer patients receiving at-home treatment.

So I’d like to ask the Minister of Health and Wellness, as the minister was unable to attend the October 1st meeting of the Canadian Health Ministers, what follow-up conversations has he had with his counterparts about the Atlantic drug purchasing strategy since October 1st?

MR. GLAVINE: In fact, in the last week of October I’m hoping to attend an Atlantic conference in P.E.I. It’s a summit with the whole purpose to take a look at what will be the next area, the next group of pharmaceuticals that we can purchase in bulk. There is a lot of work already done in preparation for that meeting, and we are hoping to have something positive to present to Atlantic Canadians within a few weeks.

DAVID WILSON : I’m a bit disappointed that the minister hasn’t indicated that he has talked to some of his counterparts, because those minister meetings are important. All provinces and territories work together to try to come up with solutions. I hope that the minister recognizes the importance of keeping in touch with ministers from across the country.

Patients receiving lifesaving drug treatments shouldn’t fall through the cracks because they are able to go home for their treatments.