Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Liberal Health critic Andrew Parsons said it was refreshing to hear from the experts Tuesday, as part of an Opposition roundtable on health issues.
In total, about 30 organizations were invited — everyone from the Memorial University School of Pharmacy and the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association to Planned Parenthood and the St. John’s Status of Women Council.
“The whole point of it was to educate us as policy makers and legislators, and to help to form our policy as we go forward,” Parsons said.
“I get to go into the legislature and argue about it. It’s a great way to get educated and hear all different sides of it.”
The Telegram was provided a list of the groups invited, but was not allowed into the room at the Fluvarium where Parsons and fellow MHAs Dwight Ball, Lisa Dempster and Jim Bennett spent the day talking with participants.
Parsons said it was a good discussion, with a lot of interaction between representatives of different groups.
“The good that I never even expected, actually, is that bringing all these professionals together, I think they’re becoming educated themselves in some cases,” he said.
“They’re learning from each other just in terms of the conversation we’re having, or that’s what it seems.”
Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union President Debbie Forward said it was the first forum of that kind since the late 1990s.
“It was a good discussion. You know, I think there was great opportunity for all the participants to talk about issues that they feel are important in terms of a health-care strategy,” she said. “it was quite interesting to hear the comments from the different providers, you know the psychologists and chiropractors and pharmacists and physicians. I mean, we all are contributing to the system, and we all have a role and a part to play.”
Other participants, like Shaun Lane with the personal care home owners’ association, said it has specific issues for government to tackle — an expanded role in the health-care system, a different funding model — but like Forward, he said he was happy to see everyone brought together.
“We’re just happy to be here today to be able to share our opinion as to how we can make the whole industry better and the service of seniors better,” he said.
Duane Morgan with the CNIB said that one thing the health-care system could do better is bring services together for blind people. He said when people are dealing with multiple services and multiple departments, they often come to the CNIB to help make sense of it all.
He said the government does a good job of consulting with the blind community.
“Our governments have been really good at discussing the issues with us and helping move things along so we were really excited to get involved with these discussions here today — whether it’s the government that’s in today or the one of tomorrow, whatever,” he said.
Costa Kasimos, executive director of Planned Parenthood, said that he came to the meeting to talk about some of the serious issues that it’s dealing with.
“One of the major issues we deal with at Planned Parenthood is accessibility of various services — whether we’re talking about abortion services or services for transgendered people,” he said. “Those are two top questions that we are receiving right now.”
Kasimos also welcomed the opportunity to talk with other professionals and groups across the health-care system.