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This article was published 18/8/2019 (406 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont promises if his party is elected they will move to improve wait times for hip and knee surgeries and restore coverage for outpatient physiotherapy, which was cut by the Tories.
"Right now we have operating rooms that sit empty and we have surgeons that want to get into (the operating room) but they can’t because the government says you have hit your quota for the year," Lamont said on Sunday standing in front of the Concordia Hospital.
"We want to make sure fewer Manitobans are stuck suffering on wait lists."
'We don’t cut essential services and have people pay out of their pocket.' — Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont
Lamont said the current annual block funding system for hip and knees surgeries means not every patient who needs surgery can get it within the recommended six month period, so there is a backlog leading to longer waits for surgery.
He said when the Tories took office, 71 per cent of Manitobans got hip replacements within the recommended six months, but now less than half are getting the surgery during that time period. And, for knee replacements, while almost 70 per cent of Manitobans received the surgery within six months in 2014, now only 36 per cent do.
But Lamont said in other provinces, such as Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta which have similar patient-based funding models, they see more patients get faster hip and knee surgery than in Manitoba.
"The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP ration care... it doesn't have to be that way."
Lamont said a Liberal government would also spend $2 million to restore outpatient physiotherapy for people.
"We don’t cut essential services and have people pay out of their pocket," he said.
"Physio can make a huge difference on how fast and how well people can get back onto their feet... physiotherapy is a medically necessary service - it is not an extra. It made no sense to cut them at the time, it delays recovery, takes people longer to get back to work and costs the economy."
Lamont said it is all part of the cuts to health care the Pallister government has been doing throughout their first term in government.
"The reality is they have frozen and cut health care funding in Manitoba for the last three years straight," he said.
"When you have a growing population and an aging population and inflation that translates into a lot of cuts and a lot of pain. The Pallister government keeps on saying they are spending more than ever, but that’s just not true and frankly Manitobans know better."
The Tories later issued a written response to the Liberal plan saying: "We have invested $5.3 million this year to ensure at least 1,000 additional hip and knee replacements and 2,000 more cataract surgeries are performed to bring down wait times."
The investment constituted a 25 per cent increase in hip and knee surgeries since 2016.
The Tories said they would have more to say on the issue later in the campaign.
And a spokeswoman for the NDP campaign said that "under Brian Pallister families are waiting longer for hip, knee and cataract surgeries every year and after he cut physiotherapy, patients are taking longer to recover from surgeries.
"That's why we've committed to hiring front line health care professionals, reversing his physiotherapy cut and re-opening Concordia's emergency room. The NDP is the only party that will invest in health care while telling Manitobans the truth about what it will cost and how it will be paid for."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Sunday, August 18, 2019 at 5:11 PM CDT: Updated, adds quotes
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