Responses from the Electoral Candidates
Responses are arranged according to the date we received them. The first response received in each party appears at the top of that section.
Responses are published in the language we receive them.
New Brunswick Liberal Party - Individual Candidate Responses
Steven Burns – candidate for Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton
Date: September 8, 2020, 4:17pm
Subject: Re: Arthritis Consumer Experts Survey for New Brunswick Election 2020 – Arthritis in New Brunswick
From: Steven Burns
My apologies its taken so long to respond but I have received a ton of these requests.
I hope this helps
- What will your government do to bring a high-quality, accessible, standardized evidence–based model of arthritis care for all New Brunswick residents?
Our Liberal platform has as one of its cornerstones -Protect and Enhance Health Care Services in all Regions. Arthritis is a debilitating disease. The swelling and tenderness of one or more of our joints results in joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsens with age. I believe that a comprehensive review of arthritis care is long overdue, and I will be a strong advocate for this. Most of us know family, friends or colleagues that may be slightly, moderately, or significantly affected by arthritis. The ability to work, to engage in physical activity as simple as walking, sports, or hobbies can be seriously impacted by this disease. Along with studying best practices from around the world, multiple stakeholders including professional care givers and those suffering with arthritis would be consulted. This then would provide 360-degree input to develop a robust and well-informed strategy based on evidence, solid data, and sound advice. The strategy should include access to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment options including education on how certain foods can affect the disease and its symptoms. The goal is to improve quality of life. The model would roll out under an action plan with measurable benchmarks and a communication/education strategy to spread the message to those affected and to those who treat and care for arthritis sufferers.
- What will your government do to ensure the continuation, improvement, and expansion of virtual care for all New Brunswick residents—both patients and health care professionals?
While we all certainly wish that COVID had never happened, it has taught us some important lessons. In the area of health care, we see that the sudden necessity of implementing virtual visits has shown just how effective technology can be for getting medical consultation more quickly, and cost effectively, to those who need it. We can take advantage of this to streamline operations to find many more opportunities to help our front-line health workers and our citizens to access and use technology to provide better and more convenient healthcare. I believe we can build on the momentum and success of virtual access to care that is occurring during this pandemic. I will work hard to find ways to expand our virtual services where both appropriate and cost effective. My experience in IT will be of utmost help in this regard.
- What will your government do to improve the uptake of biosimilars and reinvest biosimilars cost savings to increase accessibility to new medicines for New Brunswick residents living with complex chronic disease like inflammatory arthritis.
I have recently learned that a biosimilar is a biological product that is very similar to a reference biological product, with no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety, purity, and strength. I will consult with our professional experts on this subject in the province and support the way forward with these new medicines that can help realize cost savings for reinvestment into other needed, proven effective medicines for complex chronic diseases. John Esdaile, a rheumatologist, and the scientific director of Arthritis Research Canada has stated: “Huge experience in Europe has shown no difference whatsoever in safety concerns or efficacy of the 28 biosimilars that are in use in Europe." Health Canada has said well-controlled switches are safe and effective. In B.C, the savings from replacing biologics with biosimilars, in one case with one drug, was over 40 million dollars. These savings were directly re-invested in nursing support and testing.
As mentioned, one of our Liberal Platform cornerstones is enhancing health and senior care. Finding better and more cost-effective ways to support the needed medicines our ill and suffering need falls into this category. I will work when elected to advocate for the replacement of expensive biologics with cheaper and equally effective biosimilars to harness cost savings for reinvestment into new, approved medicines for the treatment of more complex diseases including inflammatory arthritis. This just makes good sense.
- What will your government do to improve the healthcare and lives of Indigenous peoples living with arthritis in New Brunswick?
We do not know what the disparities are between the level of health care treatment of indigenous and non-indigenous New Brunswickers so with solid data and information we can move forward, to undertake meaningful discussions with those affected and make informed decisions. To initiate this, I will advocate for the development and execution of a survey, on a volunteer basis, to be done at Oromocto First Nation to gather data to begin to understand the situation.
I will work with the community, government, and our health professionals to set targets and measure results for improvements.
- Will your government take steps to ensure timely, specialized care for New Brunswick patients with arthritis, including joint surgery wait times that are within medically recommended guidelines? How will your government manage the backlog of surgical appointments that occurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our health care workers continue to show us their commitment, compassion, and resilience during this pandemic.
Our health care providers are working hard to manage the current backlog, but they need help. I will advocate to undertake an assessment of this current state when we are elected and work with the stakeholders to find creative and actionable improvements to reduce wait times for services including joint surgery.
There are many factors to take into consideration to improve wait times. Just a few include missed appointments, shortage of doctors and nurses, and hours of operating rooms in use. I believe there are improvements we can action, and I am committed to finding them. Quality of life is a basic right and I will work hard to improve access to specialized care for arthritis sufferers.
Our Liberal Platform sets out several commitments regarding health care including addressing health care staffing shortages, wages, and targeted tuition relief. Immigration is another element that can increase our skilled talent pool and we need to work hard on that with the Federal government.
I believe that our government will surpass the outlined promises of the Higgs government; they aim to get wait times “within the national standard.” The national standard, 6 months, is far too long and is therefore not an appropriate benchmark for people suffering in great pain. We can do better; and I am committed to make sure we do so, including for those suffering with arthritis in our province.