Premier Darrell Dexter and Health Minister Maureen MacDonald unveiled the province’s long-awaited health-care strategy yesterday.

The plan, dubbed Better Care Sooner, also serves as a response to Dr. John Ross’s report on emergency care in the province, released in October.

The plan focuses on five points: improving access to health-care professionals, streamlining emergency care, providing better care for seniors and the mentally ill, increasing public use of the 811 nurse-line service, and changing the funding model for health care.

These five points incorporate all 26 of Ross’s recommendations, which are slated to be phased in from now through 2014. Some have already been implemented; 18 are scheduled for 2011.

Responding to opposition criticism, MacDonald maintained no rural emergency rooms will close under the plan.

“The commitment is to create collaborative emergency centres which will be open 24-7 and staffed appropriately for the community’s use,” said MacDonald.

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