The President of the New Brunswick Medical Society advised the public today that doctors in New Brunswick will challenge the Alward Government’s cut to Medicare in court.
“The government has a signed agreement with doctors,” said Dr Robert Desjardins. “We have asked them repeatedly to honour it, and the Alward Government has made clear that they will not. Not respecting agreements with doctors sends quite a message about what the Alward Government thinks of doctors’ value to the health system.”
The signed agreement binds doctors to a 0% fee increase, which the doctors willingly accepted years ago. The government’s recent cuts to Medicare and the cap on patient services is a violation of that agreement. New Brunswick’s doctors do not take lightly the notion of going to court a second time to have an agreement honoured by our Provincial Government. In 2009, the New Brunswick Medical Society and the Province of New Brunswick settled out of court to resolve their last dispute.
Dr Desjardins was most disappointed in the lack of respect the government has for doctors, as evidenced by the way they pretended to negotiate an already-done deal. “Their impulsive, short-sighted cut to Medicare was approved by Cabinet while doctors were still sitting at the table, trying to negotiate in good faith,” he explained.
The doctors have published a strategy full of recommendations to improve the long-term sustainability of the health care system, but have seen no plan from government.
“Doctors are leading change from within, but we need a trusted partner to tackle big problems,” said Dr Desjardins. “Our problems are long-term and systemic – they’re caused by unhealthy lifestyles, population ageing, and the continued export of young people. How can the government possibly think that a two-year cap on services and a broken promise to doctors are fixes to those problems?”
New Brunswick’s doctors will file their challenge imminently with the intent to ensure government abides by their signed agreement. They 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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Media contact: Andrew MacLean, New Brunswick Medical Society: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact for spokesperson availability.