Premier Brian Gallant has announced that government plans to hire 25 new medical specialists to fill vacancies, address shortages and tackle workload issues.

Over the past three years, 46 specialists have been hired in the province, but not enough to prevent wait times for thousands of patients.

Premier Gallant was in Saint John for the announcement Friday.

"I think that's excellent for specialists in New Brunswick,” says gastroenterologist Dr. Cory Gillis. “I think this will deal with shortage issues that we've had over the ten years that I’ve been here."

Gallant says the additions will include a cardiologist in Saint John and the rest will be up to regional health authorities to decide on priorities.

"This will help us to ensure we can curb wait times and deliver good solid health care in a solid fashion to New Brunswickers,” Gallant says.

The cost of the new specialists is estimated at $16 million dollars.

"I’m sure that this announcement will help alleviate some of the long waiting times that our province is facing,” says president of the NB Medical Society Dharm Singh.

Officials in the medical community say this is an important enticement when they’re trying to lure doctors to the province. Physicians say they believe workload and quality of life issues are currently determining who moves where.

"I think it's changed over time,” says Dr. Gillis. “I think if you look at some of the most important hiring criteria to physicians, because being able to do what they want to do, it's being able to balance out their family lives, and it's become much more important recently compared to times gone by for sure"

The election year plan calls for the recruitment of the new doctors to begin immediately and the government says it’s hoping to fill the positions within a year.

Officials haven’t announced how much the new specialists will cost taxpayers.

The health department initially told CTV News the cost would be $31 million dollars, but Friday afternoon the newsroom received a correction and an apology.

It now says the cost to boost the number of specialists is actually going to be about $16 million dollars a year, but it will cost $31 million for both, new specialists and new family doctors.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron