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Vice-chair of Vitalité Health Network’s board resigns over health-care reforms

People attended Norma McGraw's press conference Wednesday at Hôtel de Ville de Caraquet.
People attended Norma McGraw's press conference Wednesday at Hôtel de Ville de Caraquet. Louise Blanchard/Councillor

Vitalité board of directors vice-chair Norma McGraw said she resigned on Monday after the recently halted health-care reforms were voted for by the board without her knowledge. 

“I believed it was the government that made the decision,” said McGraw.

But when she came to the first board meeting on Feb. 10, McGraw said she was told by the president of the board that it was a collective decision by the board.

READ MORE: N.B. premier says roll-out of now-cancelled health-care reforms ‘not well thought out’

“I was very overwhelmed,” McGraw said. “I know I didn’t (vote for the reforms). There was no formal resolution in relation to the emergency department closures.

“Therefore, I felt that my credibility was put into jeopardy because she was very, very adamant that I had voted on that. And I did not vote on that. I felt that I was being a scapegoat for whoever made the decision to go ahead with that.”

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The health-care changes that were announced by the government would have seen, in part, the nightly closure of six rural ERs across the province.

READ MORE: N.B. deputy premier quits Tories over health-care reforms

On Wednesday, board of directors president Michelyne Paulin released a statement to Global News confirming McGraw’s resignation and thanking her for her years of service on the board.

She added that all board members were aware and always well informed “of the various steps related to the development process of the various projects.”

“The recent reform is no exception to this rule,” said Paulin. “Furthermore, I can confirm that members have had the opportunity to express themselves freely on the subject on several occasions and that the Board’s decision was made with full knowledge of the facts.

READ MORE: CEOs of New Brunswick health authorities defend health reform plan

“I note with regret that the confidentiality related to the existing policies of deliberative meetings was not respected by Ms. McGraw.”

In response to the statement, McGraw said she feels “very shaken because (Paulin is) not telling the truth.”

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She said there has been a lack of transparency when it came to the reforms.

“They didn’t want to alert the population of what was their plan,” McGraw said, adding that laws should change in New Brunswick.

READ MORE: New Brunswick reverses plans to close ERs amid backlash

“We should have legislation because I felt there’s too much political issue here,” she said. “Maybe decentralization wouldn’t be a bad idea, because I think we’ll have more ownership of our health care. It’s a population choice, society choice that we make to have an emergency in a rural area. And I think that we should respect that.”

McGraw said community members have been very positive and responsive in regards to her resignation.

“They felt that I stand my ground and that I’m a person to be trusted, with integrity. I don’t have anything to gain with that. I don’t want to be popular. I just want to make sure that I’m not a scapegoat for a decision that I didn’t make.”