Premiere Blaine Higgs has made controversial decisions directly affecting New Brunswick’s health care system in recent months. On February 11, 2020 he announced several reforms, which included limitations on nursing home hours and the closure of rural emergency rooms between midnight and 8 a.m.
There was immediate opposition to these healthcare reforms, which worked to reverse the decision to close rural emergency rooms prior to the inception of this reform. However, it was decisions such as these that sparked the interim NDP leader, Mackenzie Thomason, to call for Premier Higgs to resign.
The Brunswickan reached out to Thomason to discuss his thoughts on the current state of New Brunswick politics.
On the potential closure of rural emergency rooms, the NDP leader felt the lack of “consultation with health care professionals, front line staff or the communities [affected],” would lead to a devastating increase in demand on the larger hospitals that patients would be deferred to. Additionally, he believes that nobody “should be forced to travel such great distances for emergency medical care.”
“In both our health care and education systems, there is uncertainty, fear and anxiety which is impacting hard working health care professionals and workers and harming our communities,” said Thomason, calling for action on the part of the Higgs government. “These follies have gone on too long and the premier needs to take responsibility.”
Thomason feels that Blaine Higgs remaining in power will have a negative impression on the province’s future.
“New Brunswick cannot move forward with governments who insist on bailing out corporations and the wealthy over the needs of the rest of New Brunswickers,” he said.
The New Brunswick government further demonstrated it’s seemingly unempathetic tendencies in recent months.
On December 20, 2019 nursing home workers faced the devastating impact of the newest version of the Essential Services in Nursing Home Act, essentially stripping workers of what rights they had left.
“[I am] truly concerned over the lack of investment in the future,” said Thomason. “This government has shown time and time again that it does not plan to address the healthcare shortage in the province with the fastest aging population.”