New Brunswick’s Health Care System in Crisis: Urgent Action Required from Provincial Government

The state of New Brunswick’s health care system has reached a critical juncture, demanding immediate action from the provincial government. Already fragile before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health-care system is now stretched beyond its limits. Despite the tireless efforts of health-care professionals, we are unable to adequately meet the needs of New Brunswickers without swift intervention. 

On January 18, 2024, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) and the New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU) organized a Pre-Budget Health Stakeholder Forum in Fredericton, NB. This unprecedented event brought together representatives from many health-care organizations across New Brunswick, whose membership encompasses approximately 25,000 health-care professionals, including those in allied health and clinical support roles. 

“The Forum served as a platform for New Brunswick’s three major political party leaders to present their visions for healthcare,” said Dr. Paula Keating, President, NBMS. “We were pleased to have Premier Blaine Higgs, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party; David Coon, leader of the Green Party; and Susan Holt, leader of the Liberal Party, participate in the event and engage with stakeholders in a Q&A session.” 

Following the leaders’ presentations, stakeholders actively contributed their perspectives and priorities for addressing the pressing issues within New Brunswick’s health-care sector. Through collaborative discussions, six priority areas and accompanying recommendations were identified, detailing initiatives requiring immediate government attention and investment in the upcoming budget and beyond. 

The six priority areas are:  

  1. Keeping the Lights On: Re-engage with health-care professionals to support informed and transparent decision-making.  
  2. Team-Based Care: Create and scale multidisciplinary team-based primary care clinics across the province to ensure primary health-care access to all New Brunswickers.  
  3. Human Resource Stabilization: Prioritize the respect and retention of health-care professionals to ensure continuity of service. 
  4. Healthy Living and Preventative Care: Prioritize healthy living and preventative care.  
  5. Long-Term Care: Fix the root causes of issues in the long-term care system.  
  6. Digital Transformation: Invest in the digital transformation of the health-care sector. 

These initiatives, if implemented, promise to both stabilize and transform New Brunswick’s health-care system. While some recommendations entail long-term planning and investment, others could be swiftly actioned, leading to tangible improvements in the near-term. The financial requirements for these generational transformations are estimated to be $597.5 million, a 5% increase in the provincial budget.  

“New Brunswickers are calling for better access to quality healthcare,” said Paula Doucet, president, NBNU. “Our health-care professionals have shown unwavering dedication, readiness to collaborate, and a commitment to exploring innovative solutions, together. Now is the time for the provincial government to heed these recommendations, assume accountability, and swiftly translate them into action.” 

The report, Recommendations to Stabilize and Transform New Brunswick’s Health Care System, was developed collaboratively with New Brunswick Health-care Professionals. The stakeholders, including health-care professionals, organizations, and concerned citizens, await a prompt and decisive response from the provincial government to address the pressing health-care challenges facing New Brunswick. 

The full report can be viewed here. 

For media inquiries, please contact: 

Jim Johnson, NBMS

Jane Matthews-Clark, NBNU 

About the NBMS 

Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing and serving all 2,000+ practising, future, and retired physicians in the province. The mission of the NBMS is to advance the interests of physicians and improve the health-care system in New Brunswick for the benefit of patients. Our vision is physicians leading positive change for the growth and enhancement of the health-care system and improved health of New Brunswickers. 

About the NBNU 

The New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU) is a labour organization of approximately 8500 Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and hospital and community health sector Licensed Practical Nurses, who are employed in various health-care facilities throughout the province of New Brunswick. The mission of the NBNU is to enhance the work life balance as well as the social, economic, and personal well-being of nurses.