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New Brunswick doctors look to bridge the gap between poverty and assistance

FREDERICTON – As the provincial government holds consultations to develop the New Brunswick Family Plan, and with 13.8% of New Brunswick families living in poverty, the province’s doctors are drawing attention to the issue of poverty and its effects on health.

“As doctors, we see the negative impact that poverty has on health in our patients every day,” said Dr. Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “Many doctors have found themselves in a situation where they’re trying to help patients get the assistance they need.”

Chief among their concerns is the disconnect between New Brunswickers in need and the services that can benefit them.

“We know there are a lot of great assistance programs around the province already, but people can’t access them if they don’t know they’re there,” said Dr. Sarah Gander, a pediatrician in Saint John. “That’s why we think a renewed focus on bridging this divide is so important.”

To help New Brunswickers connect with these programs, the Medical Society has partnered with the Centre for Effective Practice to produce a guide to help doctors better identify and assist patients in need. The guide follows in the footsteps of similar “poverty tools” which have seen success in other provinces and territories. Among other advice, it encourages doctors to ask their patients if they have filled out their tax forms, to ensure patients are able to qualify for more selective benefits.

“We want patients to know that filing their taxes is a good thing for them – something they stand to benefit from later on,” said Dr. Linda Dalpé, a retired family doctor in Caraquet and wellness advocate. “We hope this tool will guide doctors in their efforts to assist patients in need.”

New Brunswick’s poverty tool can be viewed at https://thewellhealth.ca/poverty.

CONTACT: Aleisha Bosch, New Brunswick Medical Society, (506)462-4633

Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers. Over a hundred New Brunswick doctors sit on our Board and Committees, representing the 1600 doctors in the province.