No new initiatives in bilateral agreement announcement

The NBMS was looking forward to learning details of the bilateral agreement announced today by the Ministers of Health for Canada and New Brunswick. We hoped that this would signal a serious commitment from the province to catch up on their investment level compared to their provincial and territorial peers.

For example, Alberta and Saskatchewan used funding from these agreements to help stabilize their primary care systems through emergency investments in physician practices. Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Ontario were able to create new clinics under the Patient Medical Home model through generational investments in staff, operational costs and infrastructure. British Columbia used the funds to provide incentives to nurses and other essential clinicians to stabilize their acute care systems, while Saskatchewan was able to create and staff new hospital beds to better provide for their growing population.

However, despite calling on both parties over the last year to engage with stakeholders to map out necessary investments in the system, we find ourselves with a plan that is a result of little to no engagement with front-line workers and patients. In fact, on initial review, there does not appear to be any net new investments in New Brunswick’s health system whatsoever, just re-announcements from last year’s budget and the health-care plan launched a couple of years ago, along with other previously announced initiatives. In short, today’s announcement represents another huge missed opportunity.

We cannot afford for these federal funds to once again end up in an accumulated surprise surplus at the end of government’s fiscal year. New Brunswick remains next to last amongst its peers in per capita funding for its public health-care services, and the consequences of this underfunding are all too evident.