Liberal leader Kevin Vickers and Miramichi Bay Neguac MLA Lisa Harris are expressing concerns about the future of the Miramichi hospital if Blaine Higgs is allowed to continue with his plans to cut health care.
Earlier this week, it was made clear that Higgs’ proposed healthcare reform, which would see the removal of acute care beds and the closure of overnight emergency services in six rural communities, is only phase one of a larger undisclosed plan.
Higgs has said he is working from a plan that has been around for years. The plan presented to the previous Liberal government included closing the Miramichi Hospital ER overnight and eliminating some services offered by the hospital.
“Drastic plans like this one have been presented to governments in the past, including our previous Liberal government,” Harris said. “I’ve seen the major cuts that are proposed for Miramichi and I made it clear that it would not happen under my watch. The hospital in Miramichi would no longer be a regional hospital.
“It’s no secret that Premier Higgs has been attacking rural areas, he even lost his Deputy Premier because of it,” said Harris. “I am afraid of what is to come for Miramichi under this government. We are not second class citizens and have a right to the same level of healthcare as everyone else in this province.”
Since the last budget, the Official Opposition has questioned the government repeatedly in the Legislature on potential cuts to healthcare services, most recently in December 2019. The answer was always the same: there will be no cuts or reduction of services.
The first phase of cuts show the Conservatives have not been honest with New Brunswickers about their plans for health care.
“Obviously we can’t trust what this government says when it comes to health care cuts,” added Vickers. “We know the Miramichi hospital was targeted for cuts in the past. And we know that’s the plan Blaine Higgs is using as a blueprint for his health care cuts.
“I was raised and live in the Miramichi region, I know the realities we face and how important the hospital is to people here,” said Vickers. “My Liberal government will never implement such drastic cuts, and that is a promise.”