'Health care system on life support' says New Brunswick Liberal opposition leader
The state of New Brunswick’s health care system is under fire after the Liberal opposition office condemned the provincial government’s plan to address several health care shortages.
From staffing shortages to emergency room closures, New Brunswick hospitals have been struggling.
Liberal leader Roger Melanson says the province's health care system is in a crisis.
"The health care system is on life support because their working conditions are so challenging, and there’s such a lack of resources, that people are burning out," Melanson said during a virtual news conference Tuesday.
While Jean-Claude D’amours, the MLA for Edmundston-Madawaska Centre agreed, he urged the minister of health to put a plan in place to help health care workers during this time.
"For so many months now the pressure is on the shoulders of our health care workers and we need to find ways to make sure that they will be able to continue to deliver services that the public is in need of right now,” said D’amours.
The Liberal opposition believes the staffing crisis in the province will remain unless more is done to recruit and preserve health care workers.
Anthony Knight, CEO of the New Brunswick Medical Society, believes the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the province’s current health care issues.
"The solutions involve a national solution. We need the Government of Canada to invest more heavily in health care across the country. Our present per capita system of funding from the government doesn't meet the needs of New Brunswickers and it needs to be addressed," Knight said.
Melanson said empty promises were made by the health department, which pledged to get thousands of patients off of waitlists to see a family physician.
But the department of health says it is making progress with its current nursing shortage.
Bruce Macfarlane, spokesperson for the department of health, points to the launch of three new nurse practitioner clinics in Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton.
"The 18 nurse practitioners working in these clinics have already taken on more than 5,000 patients waiting for a primary-care provider from the patient connect New Brunswick list,” said Macfarlane.
As the department of health says it is making an effort to recruit more nurses and doctors, community officials like Marianne Bell would like to see improvements within hospital environments, to help hospitals keep their current nurses.
"We are waiting. Communities like mine and all of New Brunswick (are) waiting for the big plan that will be a long-term plan," said Bell, the mayor of Perth-Andover.
Last week the province reached tentative collective agreements with two bargaining units represented by the New Brunswick Nurses Union and the department says contract talks are still underway with other health care units.