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Canada’s doctors to Alward Government: “respect agreements negotiated in good faith”

The Presidents of the Canadian Medical Association and every provincial medical association in the country sent a letter to New Brunswick Premier David Alward on Wednesday.

“Canada’s physicians are united in our concern over the way your government is treating our colleagues in New Brunswick,” the letter states. “We call on you to respect agreements that have been negotiated in good faith and to start discussions on how to tackle tough problems.”

Dr Robert Desjardins visited his colleagues from across the country on Monday to share New Brunswick’s story, and got a strong reaction from coast to coast. “Physicians across the country are watching New Brunswick. They understand the damage the Alward Government has done to its relationship with doctors, and they supported our desire to address the real problems with health system sustainability,” he explained.

The letter is signed by the physician representatives from every province and territory in the country and highlights the importance of working with doctors to address fiscal challenges – not against them. “Breaking a signed agreement with your doctors sends an ominous message that you believe you can proceed to make health care decisions without consulting the physicians who deliver the care. That is bad medicine.”

The story of New Brunswick’s doctors having a file a legal challenge to have their signed agreement respected has played across the country. It appeared on CTV News and in newspaper articles from Cape Breton to Victoria, BC. It has also appeared in magazines targeted to physicians such as the Medical Post, and on electronic newsletters going to doctors nationwide.  New Brunswick’s doctors will have an Emergency General Meeting on the subject on Friday, May 3.

“We are proud to be supported by our colleagues nationwide,” said Dr Robert Desjardins, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “We’ve shared our frustrations with colleagues in other provinces, who realise the multiple attempts we’ve made to work with government and how seriously we take this violation of our signed agreement.”

New Brunswick’s doctors are filing a court challenge with the intent to ensure government abides by their signed agreement to a 0% increase in the Medicare budget. Doctors remain open, and have consistently demonstrated their commitment, to a long-term conversation about health care sustainability in the context of a formal legislated negotiations process.

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Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. It is a provincial division of the Canadian Medical Association. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers. Over a hundred New Brunswick doctors sit on our Board and Committees, representing the 1600 doctors in the province.

Media contact: Andrew MacLean, New Brunswick Medical Society: amaclean@nbms.nb.ca
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