Funding for vision rehabilitation improving, but still does not cover costs


​(HALIFAX, NS – Dec. 15, 2015) CNIB is pleased with Health Minister Leo Glavine’s commitment to reinstate the 30 per cent funding ($155,000) that the Liberal government had cut in April 2015 – and that funding would come from the Department of Health, rather than Community Services.

“While this commitment is a step in the right direction, restoring funding to previous levels does not yet adequately cover the costs of delivering rehabilitation for Nova Scotians who are blind or partially sighted,” said Pamela Gow-Boyd, CNIB’s Executive Director and Regional Vice President for Atlantic Canada.

The cost to deliver vision rehabilitation therapy in Nova Scotia in 2016-2017 is projected to be $1,002,972. The Minister’s commitment to reinstate funding brings government’s total contribution to $685,460 – about $317,512 short of the cost to deliver vision rehabilitation programs and services.

Ms. Gow-Boyd said she had a very positive meeting with Minister Glavine on Friday when he toured CNIB’s vision rehabilitation centre in Halifax to meet with vision rehabilitation specialists and learn more about what they do. The minister also met with many individuals who are learning to live and travel safely and independently again after a loss of sight.

“Minister Glavine is aware of the urgent need for adequate sustainable funding for 2016-2017 – and we’re optimistic there will be more good news in the new year,” said Ms. Gow-Boyd. “We’re hopeful we will not have to lay off any additional staff because we’re at a point where cutting a position does not mean longer wait times; it means services that are not offered anywhere else in Nova Scotia will be eliminated.”

CNIB was recently forced to eliminate 5.25 positions due to the lack of government funding. Cutting additional positions means Nova Scotians with vision loss will not have access to vision rehabilitation therapy – to learn skills and techniques for everyday activities that sighted people take for granted, like preparing meals, crossing the street, reading emails, and managing medications.

CNIB – the only provider of vision rehabilitation therapy for adults in Nova Scotia – does not have the ability to raise enough charitable dollars to subsidize the cost of delivering a health care service, nor should it.                          

“Nova Scotians with vision loss deserve to receive rehabilitation that is adequately covered by our health care system – just like rehabilitation that is covered for other injuries and diseases,” said Pamela Gow-Boyd, CNIB’s Executive Director and Regional Vice President.

When a Nova Scotian requires rehabilitation for reasons other than vision loss – as a result of a stroke, hearing loss or an amputation, for example – rehabilitative services, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and the support of an audiologist or social worker are provided within our health care system.

Without access to vision rehabilitation, Nova Scotians will experience a higher rate of isolation, clinical depression, falls and hip fractures, dependence on social programs, more hospital visits, and premature admission to long-term care facilities. There will be a greater cost to government, individuals with vision loss, their families and our communities.

About Vision Rehabilitation Therapy

Vision rehabilitation therapy is the next step of the continuing heath care journey for Nova Scotians with vision loss following the diagnosis, treatment and care provided by optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Vision rehabilitation therapy ensures Nova Scotians who have lost their vision due to injury or disease have opportunities to learn to use magnification and assistive technology, to participate in adjustment to vision loss counselling programs, to receive instruction in independent living skills and to learn how to use a white cane to travel safely and independently.

Vision rehabilitation is delivered where Nova Scotians who are blind or partially sighted need it most – in their homes and communities, on the phone, online and at CNIB Centres in Halifax and Sydney. This therapy addresses unique needs and is delivered by professionals with extensive education, specialized skills and experience in the blindness field.

About CNIB

Established in 1918, CNIB provided food, clothing, residences and library services to blinded veterans and other Canadians living with vision loss. Our organization has evolved over the last 97 years; in addition to charitable programs – such as education, advocacy, research and client support – CNIB has become the primary provider of vision rehabilitation in Nova Scotia.

CNIB’s vision rehabilitation programs and services reduce the personal, social and economic costs of vision loss, while improving the overall health and wellbeing of individuals who are blind or partially sighted. CNIB helps individuals to see beyond vision loss and lead full, active lives. Whether that means learning to cook again after a loss of sight, going back to school, maintaining employment, travelling safely and independently with a white cane or getting support to adjust to the emotional and social impact of vision loss.

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