The mayor of a northern New Brunswick community that is set to feel the impacts of the recent province’s health-care reform announcement says they won’t be giving up any time soon.
“We’re talking with different mayors that are affected,” says Kevin Haché, Caraquet’s mayor. “This is not over yet. And we won’t stop until the decision changes.”
Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus is one of six rural hospitals across the province that will lose its overnight emergency department services starting March 11. The six impacted communities will get added mental health services.
At those hospitals, there will also be 120 acute care beds that will be converted to long-term chronic care beds, primarily for people waiting for a nursing home bed.
People all across the province agree the state of health care in New Brunswick needs to change, but community leaders say this move is a mistake.
“It’s a big impact because the hospital of Caraquet serves all of the (Acadian) Peninsula because Tracadie has a lot of work with all their beds,” says Louise Blanchard, of Comité Action ‘H,’ a group that has advocated for the hospital. “(Tracadie) cannot receive all the emergencies from all over the peninsula.”
The mayor, who ran for the New Brunswick Tories in the 2018 provincial election, says he only learned about the decision which has been backed by the health authorities, once it became public knowledge.
“(I’m) very disappointed with the government, very disappointed with the health authorities,” Haché says.
A family doctor in Cocagne, who advocates for equal medical services for Francophone communities, says this is the beginning of the end for rural New Brunswick.
“There will be no hospitals standing in rural New Brunswick ever, in the next 5-10 years, if we let this go,” says Dr. Hubert Dupuis, president of Égalité santé en français. “It’s as simple as that. And people will pay with their lives.”