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N.B. spent the least money per capita on public health care in 2020, new data shows

According to the latest data available from the Canadian Health Information Institute, New Brunswick spent less than all other provinces on public sector health spending per capita in 2020.

However, it spent the third-highest amount on private-sector health spending in the country.

Most of the private-sector spending was on medication, according to the data the New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC) published on its website.

NBHC CEO Stéphane Robichaud the organization plans on updating the web page annually to keep track of the spending.

“There isn’t an ideal amount (of money to spend) globally,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “What we need to change in Canada is how we base our spending on the needs of the population, of the results of our health service quality.”

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Health-care spending made up 16% of the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total value of goods and services sold in the province for that year, often a metric to determine the province’s total spending capabilities.

In that respect, NB placed third in the country, with only Nova Scotia and P.E.I spending a higher proportion of their GDP on healthcare.

Robichaud said that as health-care spending ramps up, due to New Brunswick’s population boom as well as an aging population, the province needs to show citizens are getting more value for the money spent.

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A representative from the Department of Health confirmed health spending has significantly increased, saying the 10.6% increase between the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 budgets “is on par for the largest in two decades.”

That’s an increase of $344.7 million from the previous year.

Robichaud said the province needs to look at changing the models of how health care is delivered, such as a team based primary care model rather than one on one visits with family doctors.

“If you look at the areas of focus from our provincial health plan so it’s got primary care, surgical wait times, mental health and addictions…the one-on-one model is not sustainable going forward we need to look at group models,” he said.

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N.B. Health Link, a program created to provide primary care to those without a family doctor, uses that team-based approach.

Robichaud acknowledged there was some resistance among family doctors to moving to the new approach but was hopeful things would change over the long term.

“We have a new generation of physicians that are much more open to a new way of working because they’re seeing that the current way is not working.”

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