Crowd gathers in front of New Brunswick premier’s office to protest health-care privatization

Click to play video: 'Protesters gather at premier’s office over extra mural changes'
Protesters gather at premier’s office over extra mural changes
WATCH: Nearly 175 protesters gathered in front of the premier’s office in Dieppe on Monday. They were there to protest the transfer of extra mural home care services to Medavie Health Services in January. Even though the premier was in Halifax with the other Atlantic Premiers, Shelley Steeves tells us the protestors are still determined to have their message heard – Dec 11, 2017

A noisy crowd of about 175 protesters gathered in front of N.B. Premier Brian Gallant’s office in Dieppe on Monday.  They’re speaking out against the province’s plans to transfer the management of extramural home care and telecare services to Medavie Health Services in January.

President of the NB Coalition for Seniors, Cecile Cassista, said people arrived by bus from as far away as Tracadie.

“They are coming from all over, people from all over and up north are concerned. Anglophone and francophone are coming together to send a message to government that this has to stop,” said Cassista.

READ MORE: N.B. moves extra-mural program, Ambulance New Brunswick to private management

This was the lastest backlash since the province announced Medavie’s management takeover of extramural home care and telecare services come the new year.

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CUPE union representatives and members, patients, seniors, doctors and nurses were among the crowd.

Lise Ethier works as a nurse at the George L. Dumont Hospital and worked as a liaison nurse for the extramural program until September of this year.

“Many nurses and a lot of other people are leaving the program because they don’t want to go under Medavie,” said Ethier.

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The province has yet to confirm with Global New how many if any people have left the program.

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But the head of CUPE that represents EMTs in New Brunswick, Danny Legere, says it’s believed that paramedics will be asked to take over some of the home visits now performed by extramural nurses.

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“The problem that we have right now is we don’t have enough EMTs. Our EMTs are overworked they are working short and it’s a really stressful situation for them,” said Legere.

The union is also against the privatization of any public service and was also protesting the provinces possible plans to shift hospital food and cleaning services to Sodexo.

Matt Crossman of  Ambulance New Brunswick said in a statement to Global News that there would be no immediate changes for patients or professionals when the switch happens on Jan. 1, 2018.

“We believe there’s an opportunity for increased collaboration between EMP professionals and paramedics. This integrated model will help provide more timely and coordinated care to patients in their communities.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick Liberals accuse opposition of fear-mongering over Medavie Blue Cross deal

Dr. Hebert Dupuis is a family physician in Dieppe and says the non-profit group he represents, Égalité Santé, that speaks for francophone patients’ rights, has filed an injunction against the province in an attempt to stop the deal from moving forward

According to Dupuis, that case will be heard in Moncton, N.B. on Dec. 19, 2017.

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But at the Atlantic Premier’s council in Halifax, Premier Gallant’s message to the protesters remained consistent.

“I can reassure them that there is no doubt in our minds that anything that we move forward with is because we want to improve health care we want to improve home care and improve the outcomes that New Brunswickers will get,” said Gallant.

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