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N.B. Liberals promise to try and prevent nurse drain as health care dominates campaign trail

Click to play video 'Doctors want health care to become top issue in New Brunswick election campaign' Doctors want health care to become top issue in New Brunswick election campaign
The New Brunswick Medical Society wants all parties to make health care the top priority this election. The society says short-term fixes or bandages won’t cut it and a new plan is needed. Callum Smith has more. – Aug 25, 2020

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s Liberals are promising to make nursing a more attractive profession to help stop nurses from leaving the province once they graduate.

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers said Friday in Fredericton if his party forms government, he’ll negotiate a contract for the province’s nurses that is fair, respectful and ensures workplace safety.

“Nurse recruitment will be an important part of the new 10-year, health-care human resources strategy that we will aggressively implement,” Vickers said. “This plan will focus not only on RNs (registered nurses), but on all health-care professionals.”

He said salaries must be competitive to stem the outflow of nursing graduates from the province. Vickers also promised to introduce a targeted tuition-relief program for students enrolled in post-secondary nursing schools.

Read more: All our New Brunswick election 2020 coverage

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The New Brunswick Nurses Union issued a statement Friday lamenting how its members are forced to work short-staffed and under stressful conditions. Union president Paula Doucet said the lack of planning for health-care resources, “is deeply troubling to me, as an RN and as a citizen of this province.”

“Not to mention how a global pandemic has impacted health-care workers in this province. When society was told to stay home, RNs continued to go to work every day.”

Green Leader David Coon stood outside the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton Friday to say a Green government would expand the use of team-based medicine to improve access to primary health care.

“We need a new deal with family doctors that would see them integrated with nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, dieticians, mental health specialists, pharmacists and others into primary health-care teams,” he said.

During a campaign story in Saint Leonard, Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said if re-elected, his government would protect the province’s natural environment and encourage the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.

Click to play video 'Residents hope to see focus on Northern New Brunswick in 2020 election' Residents hope to see focus on Northern New Brunswick in 2020 election
Residents hope to see focus on Northern New Brunswick in 2020 election – Aug 27, 2020

“We bundled licences to make it more convenient for the outdoor community to buy licences together – and at a discount,” Higgs said. He said his government eliminated the fee for minor hunting licences, “removing a barrier for young New Brunswickers to get to know the sport.”

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Higgs said he has also opened 70 new lakes to ice fishing. “When re-elected we will continue to ensure we protect our woods and our waterways,” he said.

Meanwhile, People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin toured the Oromocto Food Bank Friday. He said people are struggling with food security and the problem will increase in the coming months when the federal government’s emergency relief payments come to an end.

Read more: Parties have until this afternoon to nominate candidates for New Brunswick election

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 28, 2020.