New Brunswick Premier Bran Gallant is standing by his embattled deputy premier following the release of horrific details of a child neglect case in Saint John.

Horsman is under fire for being unaware of the case that has seen the parents plead guilty to child endangerment.

Gallant said Friday that he has “full confidence” in Horsman, but admits that the children deserved better.

"I can tell you that the whole caucus is heartbroken to hear what has happened to the children in this case,” Gallant said. “Every single one of us, including (deputy) premier Horsman, will do everything to ensure this doesn't happen again."

The premier went on to defend the province's social workers for doing what he called “a difficult job.”

A Saint John courtroom heard that a child protection file had been opened by social workers. In a statement to CTV News, the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers said, "Social workers believe that no child should have to endure abuse or neglect. The NBASW does not have access to the details of this case and is unable to draw any conclusions."

Opposition critics called on Stephen Horsman to resign following Thursday's admission that he had only learned about the case through media reports. Gallant is calling that a “political move” by the Opposition.

"In a high-profile case, normally there's an expectation that a minister will know what's going on. Ministers are held to those expectations all the time when they're scrummed or asked in question period,” said J.P. Lewis with the University of New Brunswick Saint John political science department.

The premier is promising government will co-operate with an upcoming investigation by Norm Bosse, the province's child and youth advocate.

"We will do everything we can to make sure we give him the information he needs in a timely fashion so we can get to the bottom of how this happened and to make sure we get better at this and do better," Gallant said.

Gallant has taken on the role as minister responsible for the Saint John area in recent months. He would not say whether he feels he also should have been briefed on the child neglect case.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.