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Letter to the Editor: Protect our hospitals

February 27, 2020News

The ill-conceived cuts to health care in New Brunswick by the Higgs government must be stopped. Liberal leader Kevin Vickers and I have attended rallies at the Sackville Memorial Hospital and I have been to several meetings in Sackville in recent weeks to discuss the cuts. As we know most of the public attention has centred around the closure of emergency rooms overnight at six hospitals, including Sackville. But the changes are more than that and the effects will be felt not just in the communities where these hospitals are located. Acute care beds are being eliminated, surgical services are being eliminated, nurses are being laid off. And that’s just a small part of what Higgs is calling the first phase a plan he won’t share with us.


The whole exercise has been a disaster for the Higgs government, a clear example of what not to do in terms of how government should operate.


Sackville Memorial Hospital is not in the riding I represent but many people who live in my riding from communities such as Cap Pelé, Shediac and Beaubassin East rely on the hospital for emergency and acute care services. Similarly, people in communities such as Memramcook choose Sackville over hospitals in Moncton whose ERs are filled to capacity. Closing ERs and eliminating acute care at these smaller hospitals is only going to make things worse at our larger hospitals in cities such as Saint John Moncton and Fredericton.


Premier Higgs has temporarily paused his healthcare reform due to public outcry, but he has not given up on his plan. New Brunswickers have lost trust in Blaine Higgs, particularly when it comes to maintaining health services.


And this is only phase one of his plan. If you think people in communities such as Sackville were caught off guard, wait until the next phase of reforms starts chipping away at services in our larger centres.


Further cuts to health care won’t be mentioned in the upcoming budget on March 10th. If there’s any bad news in the budget, this government is not going to tell you about it. After the last budget was tabled, we questioned the government time and again on potential cuts to healthcare in communities such as Sackville and they vehemently denied any cuts to services in rural hospitals. We all know what happened there.


If this government is not defeated, the Sackville Memorial Hospital will lose its acute care beds, day-time operating room and over-night emergency services, and there will be much deeper cuts to come that could affect all New Brunswick Hospitals.


The Liberal Party knows reforms are needed in health care but it can’t start with taking services away from some New Brunwsickers. We think Blaine Higgs sudden about-face to pretend he wants to consult with New Brunswickers is nothing more than an empty promise. If MLAs don’t take a stand in the upcoming Legislature, whether they are red, green, purple or blue, Blaine Higgs will push forward with his hidden agenda to cut health care in all communities. I for one will stand with my constituents who tell me they don’t think Blaine Higgs can be trusted with their health services.


Jacques LeBlanc

MLA for Shediac-Beaubassin-Cap-Pelé