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N.B. schedules public engagement sessions for 5-year health-care plan

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New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs delivered his third state of the province address Wednesday, focusing on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had in the province. Higgs spoke at length about the financial impact, but says the province is recovering well. Silas Brown reports – Feb 10, 2021

New Brunswick’s government has scheduled public engagement sessions on the future of health care in the province.

Last month, the province released a health-care discussion paper outlining the challenges the system is facing.

The paper presented a grim picture of the health-care system, marked by a lack of access to primary care and a coming labour crunch.

“We cannot continue to ignore these problems. It is time for the people using our system, the people working in our system, community leaders and all levels of government in every corner of the province to come together in a united approach to improve health care,” Health Minister Dorothy Shephard wrote in the paper’s introductory letter.

Read more: New Brunswick’s health-care discussion paper paints grim picture of health-care system

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Problems outlined in the report include long wait times to see a family doctor, closures of six emergency rooms in smaller communities and wait-lists for nursing beds among others.

More details on the discussion paper are available here.

Consultations with communities and health-care professionals were promised after a slate of proposed reforms was abandoned in the wake of large protests last year.

On Friday, the province announced that Shephard will be doing a virtual tour to talk about challenges facing New Brunswick’s health-care system, in which she will receive input from medical professionals and the public.

“I am committed to creating a better health-care system and I am open to listening to any and all ideas about how that can be accomplished,” Shephard said in the Friday release.

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The virtual tour will be held through Zoom, with simultaneous interpretation available.

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The schedule is:

  • March 4, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sackville
  • March 9, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sainte-Anne-de-Kent
  • March 11, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Caraquet
  • March 16, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Perth-Andover
  • March 18, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sussex
  • March 23, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Grand Falls
  • March 25, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Campbellton
  • March 30, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Moncton
  • April 6, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Upper River Valley
  • April 8, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saint John
  • April 13, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Charlotte County
  • April 15, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Bathurst
  • April 20, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fredericton
  • April 22, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Miramichi
  • April 27, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Edmundston

Read more: ‘The politics of it are ugly,’ former N.B. Liberal minister says of health care reform

The province says members of the public are encouraged to submit feedback by emailing healthplansante@gnb.ca.

All feedback will be considered as the province develops its five-year plan for the health-care system.

— With files from Silas Brown.

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