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New Brunswick budget has nurses looking for a reason to stay


New Brunswick's health-care budget got passing marks from some, but nurses give the province a failing grade.

"Nova Scotia came out on Monday with their own retention initiatives and [premier] Houston's quotes on, 'We respect the nurses,'” said Maria Richard, vice president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union.

“We realized it's been a slap in the face of New Brunswick nurses."

Some highlights from New Brunswick's $12.2 billion budget announced Tuesday include:

  • $44.9 million to increase wages for personal support workers in care homes
  • $10.4 million to increase the number of doctors
  • $29.7 million for recruitment and retention

On Monday, the Nova Scotia government announced that nurses are getting a $10,000 bonus and are being offered an additional $10,000 retention bonus if they sign on to work for two years.

However, the Higgs government was caught by surprise with this move from its neighbour.

"That was a disappointment. I'm not going to say anything different,” said New Brunswick Health Minister Bruce Fitch.

“Not to speak for the premier but I believe he was disappointed as well because it does put a lot of pressure on the other provinces."

Finance Minister Ernie Steeves says, "There's so much more to that story than just a $10,000 bonus."

“There's so much more to the health continuum and trying to change the continuum and work together. I don't think it's about money so much as it is about stopping them from working double shifts,” Steeves said.

The opposition says $30 million for retention is just a drop in the bucket.

"For him to be surprised, it's just another indication that they're not at the table, they're not aggressively pursuing this issue,” said official opposition leader Rob McKee.

“If we're going to sit on the sidelines, we're just going to get further behind."

The NB Health Coalition is pleased to see the money for personal support workers, but has other concerns.

"We think the whole health-care system would be better off if seniors were not occupying hospital beds right now,” said Bernadette Landry, co-chair of the NB Health Coalition.

“If they could receive more better care in their own homes where they want to live as long as possible."

New Brunswick's health coalition says factoring in inflation, the government still isn't spending enough to fix the ailing health-care system. Top Stories

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