Roughly two and a half years after the Higgs Government attempted to close emergency departments overnight and cut services in a number of hospitals across the province, the Liberal opposition is expressing its concern over the deteriorating state of the New Brunswick healthcare system.
“In February of 2020, the population of New Brunswick stood up to the Higgs Government and with the support of the Liberal Opposition, saved their hospital services” says Roger Melanson, Leader of the Official Opposition. “Since then, we have not seen a genuine effort from this government to improve the situation in our hospitals. We know the shortage of healthcare professionals is the biggest challenge we’re facing, yet there have been very few initiatives that would actually attract more professionals to New Brunswick or improve the working conditions for the ones already working in our healthcare system.”
While the Higgs Government cancelled their plans in 2020, the delay in releasing the new health reform plan paired with the little concrete measures to address the human resources issues plaguing our healthcare system have led to many short-term and long-term service interruptions.
“It’s not a coincidence we are seeing a situation now that is similar to what was proposed in 2020. They are cuts by stealth. Minister Shephard has used every excuse possible to justify the problems we’re seeing, without looking at ways to address them” says the Opposition leader. “Yesterday it was announced that the emergency department at the hospital in St. Quentin will be closed overnight until the end of July. Since November 2021, the emergency department at the hospital in Sackville is only open from 8am to 4 pm. Let’s not forgot the obstetrics unit in Campbellton that has been closed since April 2020. In the last year we’ve seen a number of unexpected service interruptions at hospitals in Miramichi, Moncton and Edmundston just to name a few.
The many service interruptions plaguing the healthcare system creates an inequality of access to healthcare services in more rural areas. “As a New Brunswick citizen, you should have access to quality healthcare no matter where you live in the province. It is not acceptable that for over two years a people from the Campbellton area have been forced to travel to Bathurst to deliver their baby. It is not acceptable that people must call their hospital to make sure the service they need is available that day” says Melanson. “the Higgs government can’t keep ignoring this problem, something has to change.”