PEI’s budget was characterized by its focus on healthcare initiatives. Since 2007, they have increased drug spending by 34% an investment which has enabled them to add over 120 drugs to the formulary, including ten medications used in the treatment of cancer, and to reduce the seniors co-pay by 25 per cent. This year the drug budget benefits from savings as a result of a new generic drug policy which they believe will permit them to add another 25 new drugs to the formulary. Since 2007, PEI has increased its home care spending by 70%. This year’s budget includes a 17% increase from last year. Although not a new investment, work continues on the construction of a new Palliative Care Centre.
The budget also includes $2 million in new investments for the hospital centre which includes $400, 000 for the expansion of same day treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital as well as expanding ambulatory care capabilities. They have expanded coverage in the Kings County, Summerside, and New Glasgow areas and allocated additional funding of $300,000 to continue improving service and hours in these regions.
The budget provides an additional $1.3 million to provide 41 new permanent beds (primarily in Queens County where demand is rising more rapidly than in other parts of the province).
PEI’s strategy seems to be paying off: the most recent national report on wait times, released in March, indicates steady improvement in the proportion of Islanders receiving key procedures within the targeted benchmark time. Prince Edward Island’s wait times are the best in the Atlantic region with regard to hip replacement, knee replacement, and radiation therapy, and comparable in the areas of cataract surgery and hip fracture surgery.
Keywords: budget, healthcare, drugs, costs