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New Brunswick opposition calls for summer sitting after health-care shuffle

Click to play video: 'N.B. opposition calls for return of legislature after health-care shuffle' N.B. opposition calls for return of legislature after health-care shuffle
WATCH ABOVE: As New Brunswick finds its footing amid the aftershocks of some top-level health-care shakeups, politicians on the other side of the legislature floor say the premier needs to bring everyone back to discuss the crisis at hand. This comes after a man died in an emergency department waiting room in Fredericton. Travis Fortnum reports – Jul 16, 2022

As New Brunswick finds it’s footing amid the aftershocks of some top-level health-care shakeups, politicians on the other side of the legislature floor say the premier needs to bring everyone back to discuss the crisis at hand.

Premier Blaine Higgs recently shuffled out his health minister and fired the CEO of Horizon Health Network following the death of a patient in an emergency department waiting room in Fredericton.

Dorothy Shephard is being replaced by Bruce Fitch as minister of health, while she returns to social development.

Read more: Premier Blaine Higgs replaces N.B. health minister after patient dies in ER

Higgs announced the changes in a press conference Friday, saying, “It’s not up to me to run the health-care authorities or run health authorities, but it is up to me to ensure that the right people are in the position to do so. And it starts at the top.”

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Interim leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party Roger Melanson said what Higgs needs to do now is recall the legislature for a summer sitting, focusing on the situation unfolding in the health-care sector.

“He can play musical chairs by changing ministers here and there, firing people and throwing people under the bus,” said Melanson. “Obviously it’s more difficult (for the Opposition) when you’re not on the floor of the legislature to be able to ask questions.”
Click to play video: 'Premier Blaine Higgs replaces N.B. health minister after patient dies in ER' Premier Blaine Higgs replaces N.B. health minister after patient dies in ER
Premier Blaine Higgs replaces N.B. health minister after patient dies in ER – Jul 15, 2022

Read more: Opposition calls for New Brunswick health minister’s resignation after ER death

Megan Mitton, the New Brunswick Green Party health critic agrees.

“I would be very pleased to be able to go to the legislature, today, tomorrow, whenever, and hold the government accountable,” Mitton said over Zoom on Saturday. “If he’s talking about needing a change of management, I agree Premier Higgs, because you’re not managing it well.”

But, at the center of this are the province’s health-care workers.

Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, said those who work in health are already running on bare bones as they try to squeeze in any form of summer break.

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The recent change might not be “felt on the front lines,” said Doucet. “(It) is a sign there is a willingness to change.”

Meanwhile, Melanson and Mitton said they’ve heard nothing from the government on whether a summer sitting is possible.

— With files from Nathalie Sturgeon.

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