New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs issued a statement Monday ahead of an announcement set for Tuesday, which is set to shake up the province’s health care.
In it, the premier states: “Change is not easy, it is necessary and we are prepared to do what is right for all New Brunswickers.”
Radio-Canada reported Sunday that the change coming will have emergency rooms at 6 hospitals across New Brunswick close nightly from 10:00 to 8:00 the following morning.
Citing information from “several sources,” the report names the affected hospitals as Hospital of the Infant Jesus RHSJ, Caraquet, Grand Falls General Hospital, Stella-Maris-de-Kent Hospital, Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, Sussex Health Center, Sackville Memorial Hospital, Hôtel-Dieu de Saint-Joseph, Perth Andover.
Chuck Chiasson, the MLA who serves Grand Falls, says this is another blow to rural New Brunswick dealt by the Higgs government.
“It’s the small hospitals, it’s the small communities that are feeling the brunt of all the cuts made by this government,” Chiasson says.
“It’s as if rural New Brunswick is not a concern to them.”
While the province isn’t confirming any details, the premier says in his statement that the government needs to act with urgency to address challenges that have been “ignored” by previous governments.
“We are facing a mental health crisis across the province,” the statement reads, “our population is aging, and we are also dealing with a significant labour shortage.
“Approximately 35 per cent of physicians and 40 per cent of nurses are eligible for retirement over the next five years.”
Marc Thorne, Mayor of Sussex, says the move has caught him off guard.
“This is going to have a terrible impact on the people in Sussex and the whole region,” he says.
“This decision is a gamble on people’s lives and they’re not going to take that lightly. I know I’m not.”
The province’s announcement is expected tomorrow morning.