Skip to main content

'This shouldn't have happened again': Renewed calls for immediate plan after another N.B. ER waiting room death


New Brunswick’s opposition parties say the provincial government isn’t being open about any immediate plans of reducing ER wait times.

The death of a man waiting for care at The Moncton Hospital last week is renewing calls for action now.

“This shouldn’t have happened again,” said David Coon, leader of the New Brunswick Green Party. “And it did.”

In July, a patient died in the ER waiting room at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton.

Neither Premier Blaine Higgs nor Health and Wellness Minister Bruce Fitch were made available for an interview Monday.

The Horizon Health Network said a review of last week’s incident was underway. In a statement last week, Horizon said The Moncton Hospital’s emergency department was at a “critical overcapacity state” when the man died.

Horizon said a review of the Chalmers Hospital incident was finished in early August.

Premier Blaine Higgs committed to publicly releasing findings and recommendations from the Chalmers review in July.

“I do believe the public needs to know exactly how this situation was handled,” said Higgs on July 15. “What demands we were placing on individuals, patients, that were unachievable and how we’re going to change that practice in the future. I expect that sort of clarity and I want to be able to communicate in the same clarity, or minister Fitch will, in relation to what is being done precisely differently.”

Higgs reaffirmed his commitment to making findings from the Chalmers review public last week.

“Let’s look into that and see where that went because if I said we’d release some information on that then I’ll find it,” said Higgs on Tuesday afternoon, only a few hours before the Moncton Hospital incident.

Coon said the delay in review findings being shared was unacceptable.

“It’s time they take the shroud off of these deaths and expose New Brunswickers to what actually has transpired,” said Coon.

In September, CTV News requested information about the number of people who’ve died while waiting in emergency departments across Horizon hospitals. Horizon replied, saying it didn’t differentiate between those who died in a waiting room and those who died after being admitted to the emergency department.

Liberal MLA Robert Gauvin said Higgs’ decision to remove the Health Minister, Horizon CEO, and elected health boards after July’s incident was evidence that any plan would have to come from him.

“It’s not responsible if you decide to blow up the boards, take people out of their jobs, with no idea,” said Gauvin. “So can we have the idea and plan to reduce wait times?”

Dr. Trevor Jain, a Charlottetown-based emergency room physician, said an immediate focus on primary care, long-term care, and mental health could help reduce ER wait times across the country.

“If we could address those three things right off the bat aggressively, even a one to two per cent improvement in the health-care system would help upstream and downstream in the emergency department greatly,” said Jain, in an interview with CTV on Monday.

“I think we have to get away from health-care systems coast-to-coast-to-coast saying that it’s going to take years to fix, or kicking the can down the road. We need some short-term, medium, and long-term solutions now.” Top Stories

Stay Connected